Noa shirt

I have an oversized double-gauze men’s Steven Alan shirt that has survived almost a decade of RTW culls, and I eventually figured out that I love it. Since then I’ve had an eye out for a sewing pattern that would allow me to replicate it. Around the end of last year I found the free Noa shirt pattern from Fabrics-Store.com. I thought this could be the one – per to the website, it’s got “classic tailoring”, a “relaxed silhouette”, and plenty of comments saying “watch out, it’s BIG”. Hello, sailor!

I chose to sew a 12/14 because the approximate finished chest measurement of 49” matched my existing RTW shirt, but my finished Noa shirt actually has a 46” chest so they’re really getting their money’s worth out of the word “approximate”. On the other hand, the pattern cost me approximately $0.00, sooo. And it’s a very functional pattern. The Noa is a nice professional-looking conventional button-up for people who prefer a dartless fit, but alas, it is not my dream shirt!

Sorry to spoil the ending, but the fact that I lopped the arms off probably gave you a clue! In large part my ambivalence is due to the fabric. This crisp yarn-dyed striped cotton grabbed me in the store, and I thought I could make something that was kind of winking at the idea of a business guy’s dress shirt, but I accidentally made a straightforward, non-winky, business guy’s dress shirt. A perfectly nice one – the fabric is stable, on-grain, and it pressed like a dream – and I enjoyed sewing it, but wearing it? I don’t know.

I used the Fabrics-Store blog to find out the seam allowance (3/8”) but otherwise sewed everything in my usual mish-mashy way, lots of techniques from different patterns all smooshed together.  I used the asymmetric back pleat from the Willamette, Archer’s burrito yoke, this collar, and Sewaholic’s continuous bound sleeve placket. Because OH YES, I sewed the sleeve placket. I sewed BOTH sleeve plackets, AND I added the cuffs, for all the good it did me. Even though I’m not scared of bias bound sleeve plackets anymore I realized that they’re not totally suitable for vertical stripes – by design, you sew on a slight diagonal, so the finished placket will never be parallel to the stripes.

Do I lie?!

This shirt looked so dang office-ready with the pleated full-length sleeve. If that’s what you’re looking for, vaya con Dios, get thee some sharp cotton and sew the Noa. I wanted something relaxed, more like this breezy Coco’s Loft edition, but it was clearly too late for that. It’s never too late to grab a pair of scissors and chop your sleeves off, though! I thought this baseball length looked sort of wacky and modern (finished length 6 ¾”) but mostly I wear it with a rolled cuff. Also, rolling the sleeve up hides the fact that I ran out of thread and hemmed the sleeves (truly, widely, deeply) with the only nearby shade in my house.

In retrospect, an actual contrasting thread color might have been fun, especially because my topstitching is pristine (I know I’m not supposed to say that, but it is). A couple more details I enjoy: I sewed the hem inside-out because when I attached the sleeves, I loved the candy-stripe effect of the seam allowance.

Also, this button-up is a button-*down*, because I sewed some wee little buttonholes into the collar points and buttoned those fellahs down! I copied a technique I saw in a RTW shirt to reinforce the button area, using fusible hem webbing like double-sided tape to attach a scrap of self-fabric to the inside of the shirt. All edges pinked, of course.

I thought about not opening the buttonholes and sewing the buttons through the collar, but I’ve done that to one other shirt and it makes ironing the collar a pain in the neck.

Not that this fabric needs a ton of ironing. It gets some wear wrinkles, but nothing too severe. If it weren’t for the hand, color and pattern – you know, its characteristics – I would probably really like it. I actually sewed this Noa at the end of December (strangely right before Very Peri got announced as the color of 2022) and so far, the weather hasn’t been such as would let me wear it, so I’m not sure I’m avoiding it for practical reasons or prejudiced ones.

I feel like lately whenever a project doesn’t quite live up to my hopes, I gaze out the window and whisper in a melancholy voice “ah, but ‘twere it linen…”, but…what if it was linen? Black linen, or sand-colored maybe? In any case, I’m not recycling this pattern quite yet. Or giving the shirt away either, though if summer comes and I’m still not wearing it, I’ll dump it like some shorted stock (that’s business talk, right?).

Buy, buy! Sell, sell!

Pattern: Fabrics-Store Noa shirt

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 12/14

Supplies: 2 yards striped cotton, Sewfisticated, $7.98; thread, Sewfisticated, $2.49; buttons from stash

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $10.47

Tiger Archer

Today we are going way, way back in time, all the way back to the dawn of sewing (kidding, but I did buy this pattern in 2013). You can probably tell from the date that it’s a Grainline Archer! I don’t have any specific notes on this shirt since it’s at least 6 years old, possibly 8, but it’s made from pre-rift Cotton and Steel quilting cotton and despite the kind of crunchy fit and my not-so-hot sewing I use it plenty.

I actually remember the fabric provenance pretty clearly – I bought some for pockets for Professor Boyfriend’s pants, fell in love and decided it MUST be a shirt (mine), but my local Gather Here had sold out in the meantime, so I called my mom and she found some in her local, Ryco’s (which is an awesome place but closing at the end of this year when the owner retires, unless someone wants to buy the business, which one of you should. Go do that now, and then come back here). The buttons were from JP Knit and Stitch before it was online-only. This shirt is a time capsule shirt!

Quilting cotton isn’t the most comfy-cozy fabric to wear, but it’s hard to argue with chartreuse tigers. A quick Google reveals the Archer has been made in a ton of different fabrics – and heck, everyone seems to have made at least one.

In thinking about why the Archer blew up so quickly, I have two theories. One is that it was the first buttoned shirt pattern to offer exceptional support (which is why I bought it). My second is that, for the sizes available, it fits accurately and predictably. The deliberately loose fit helps, I’m sure; my pattern is graded from a 6 bust (!!) to a 12 hip, and it fits fine now, and was presumably fine way back when, or it wouldn’t have lasted this long. That’s flexible.

The sewalong and the easy fit are both awesome building blocks for a ‘beginner’ pattern, but looking back now with all my greybeardy wisdom, the Archer doesn’t always use the easiest techniques. Most notable is probably the collar stand construction, but the technique I hate with oh such hatred is the bias bound plackets.

It’s possible that you, dear reader, find them easier than a traditional sleeve placket, but I big-time don’t. Either way you’re cutting into the sleeve piece, but when using a binding, the pieces of fabric are so much more fiddly and the margin for error is smaller. And they’re stupid and flimsy and tiny and pointless and also I did them wrong.

You might notice the lack of buttons and buttonholes on the cuff. That’s because even my beginner eyes were filled with so much blergh at the sight of this placket that I decided this shirt would only be worn with the sleeves rolled, forever, and I took steps to ensure that.

I moved the proposed cuff button to the sleeve and added a little button strap (it’s actually a bit longish, since it begins and ends where the button is stitched). I also sewed everything with French seams despite that ½” seam allowance. A ½” sa is for nobody. Nobody wants that. Give me liberty 5/8” or give me the other thing 3/8”.   

This is another shirt I wear on a perma-tucked basis, but the hem has a perfectly nice curve, which I feel proud of wee beginner Lia for handling well (even if my topstitching is a bit hideous, partly because my stitch length on this whole shirt was bonkers short – why did I sew everything with like a 1.5 length stitch?!).

You don’t need my extremely lukewarm take, but the Archer is an approachable shirt with mostly-classic details – a button band, a lined yoke and a pleat at the back, PORS (Pockets of Respectable Size). A history of indie patterns would be sure to include it (I know it’s the first PDF pattern I ever bought!). Just, for the love of Mike, use a tower placket. Any tower placket will do.

Not too much else to say about this, except a few years ago I wore it to a book signing by beloved childhood author Tamora Pierce in order to bait her into saying she liked my shirt, AND IT WORKED.

I can never get rid of this now. It’s Alanna-approved.

Pattern: Grainline Archer shirt

Pattern cost: nowadays, $16 minimum

Size: 6 bust, 12 hip

Supplies: unknown quantity of quilting cotton in two lengths, which my mom bought most of, Gather Here & Ryco’s

Total time: So unknown

Total cost: So so very unknown

Pajungles

This handsome sonofagun is back and putting my own plain-Jane pajamas to shame! Professor Boyfriend spent most of his twenties wearing variations on mud color, and then one day this wonderfully be-catted fellow just sprang into being and now I’m a peahen. I’m the opposite of complaining!

This is more of a lounge set than strictly pajamas, and it was unplanned. Prof. B.F. picked this sensational leopards-print (as opposed to leopard-print, singular) cotton for a casual summer button-up, but it had been a while since I’d sewn something for him and I couldn’t remember the right yardage, so we got nervous and overbought. After cutting and sewing the shirt I still had about a yard left from the original 2 ¾ yards and I broached the idea of matching shorts.

Backstory, I’ve been hinting about coordinated sets since seeing those made by Emma of Emma’s Atelier (most recently, this one) but Professor Boyfriend wasn’t biting so I pitched these as “cotton sleep shorts”. Prof. B.F. is not a wide guy, but 1 yard of 45” wide fabric wasn’t going to make full-length shorts with all the fixings. I Googled around for free woven boxer patterns but modifying his Jeds pattern seemed easier than printing and assembling an unknown quantity. I was pushing these as pajamas, so it didn’t need a fly opening, and I didn’t have enough fabric for slash pockets, so these were really as simple as could be.

I blended the front pocket into the front leg, and the back yoke into the back leg. I abbreviated both inseams to a 4” finished length and straightened the hem extensions. A quick walking of the seamlines to confirm everything would match, and badda boom, pattern pieces. However, at this point courage failed me and I decided I needed more ease. I retook his measurements and those of the flat pieces; his widest point was 38”, and the pattern was 35”, so I freaked out and added 4” of ease by splitting the front and back legs vertically and adding 1” of width to each.

I now think I measured him wrong, because his commercial pants size is a 34” or 35” waist, and he probably could have wiggled in and out of these without me adding anything. I’m pretty annoyed with myself because I could have used the fabric more efficiently (often a point of pride). I might go back and remove some of that excess, even though that essentially means disassembling 75% of the shorts, just to prove that I can do math.

The waistband is a big old folded rectangle with elastic threaded through it. I learned my lessons from my own PJs and made the casing’s finished width just a smidge larger than necessary. I couldn’t cut it continuously, but I could match the seams with the short’s side seams. I left a bit of each of the short edges of the waistband unsewn so I could attach the whole waistband before adding elastic.

I left this opening on both sides as part of my cunning plan to reach in and untwist the elastic as necessary, but of course this meant the elastic went in without a fuss, so I just had two short seams to hand-sew closed. Which I did…NOT. Hey! It’s ongoingly adjustable!   

The shirt is Professor Boyfriend’s usual short-sleeved Fairfield. When I handed it to him he said “Wow! You pattern-matched across the button placket!” because he is a nice person who pays attention and because DID I EVER. In a stable fabric with a largish repeat like this quilting cotton, it was a straightforward pleasure.

Nothing really to add about this pattern, except that I’ve officially converted to French-seaming the armscyes instead of flat-felling them. I might tweak the sleeve cap next time for a narrower sleeve, but that would be harder to sew. I’ll keep yah posted.

So after this shirt and the matching ‘sleep shorts’ were finished, I convinced Professor Boyfriend to try them on together, and while he originally described them as “very cool pajamas” he might be warming up to the idea of this being an outside-the-house outfit (the shirt has been in public, but the combination hasn’t).  The shorts don’t have any pockets, but I have just enough scrap left to add one bum pocket, and if you can carry your keys you can leave the house, right? I’d want to narrow the legs a bit first to make the bottoms a little less casual, but personally, I think the world is ready. I probably won’t be able to talk him all the way into a romphim, but a set is excellent progress!

And I think he looks meowvelous!

(Forgive me.)

Pattern: Thread Theory Jedediah pants and Thread Theory Fairfield Shirt

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ??? waist = 38.5″ inches stretched, and M

Supplies: 2.75 yards of Leopard in Jungle cotton, $33.00, Gather Here; buttons, Gather Here, $5.10; thread, elastic from stash

Total time: 2 and 5 hours

Total cost: $38.10

Summer Jams

Thanks to general encouragement (especially KK of Magpie Logbook!), I finally sewed myself some fresh summer pajamas.

The pattern is Lisette for Butterick, B6296, and I just noticed it’s sold in the category “Family Sleepwear” which also includes B6338. Begging the question, why didn’t I sew frillybum sleep panniers for the whole family instead?! Oh well. Maybe next time!

My paper copy was in the higher size range, which was necessary for my downstairs, but a little too roomy for my upstairs. The dilemma of the cross-sized! I sewed a 14 top and a 16 bottom. The shirt is exaggerated by design and sewed up easy as pie. The shorts weren’t complicated, but there’s not quite enough vertical space in the back. Two extra inches, one added to the top of the back rise and one to the curved part of the seat seam, would be welcome.

The shorts are wearable as is, but if you’ve been sitting on this pattern (seat pun) and you have a bit of a bum, you might want to add volume. Also, the back yoke is narrowest at center back and is cut on the fold. Odd! Or to put it politely, unique!

By the way, I deeply dislike threading elastic into a waistband. It may technically take less time than sewing a fly, but each minute stings like poison because I hate it, and the elastic twists, and I untwist it, and then it twists again, and I hate it. After an estimated four thousand hours, I finally got the elastic lying flat and stitched a line through the center so it could never twist again. Grrr. Comfy though!

The pocket bags are surprisingly generous – they end about an inch and a half above the hem of the shorts. Next time I would consider trapping them in the cuffs so they can’t flap. I love using cuffs to finish, by the way. It conceals so many raw edges and has a nice weight. Everything else is French seamed because she’s (me’s) worth it.

I’m a little worried that these look like formal radiology scrubs, nice finishing and all. Hopefully the frilly little buttons and the piping help prevent that.

Self-fabric flat piping is sort of the Men In Black: International of piping. Maybe nobody worked that hard on it, but it stills seems like unnecessary effort for something pretty hard to see. Sewing it was good low-stakes practice, though! It’s slightly uneven but even I have trouble spotting that. Originally I planned on a ditsy floral contrast fabric but I eventually opted for monotone, both because it aligned with a traditional masculine aesthetic, aaand because I had a big ol’ free piece of scrap fabric. I still do, actually. This took remarkably little piping. I used straight grain pieces on the shorts legs and bias-cut everywhere else.

The collar directions are basically identical to these from the true indie sew-alike, CC Carolyn pajamas, including the part where you kind of fade the piping into the front + facing seam right before it meets the collar. I was surprised at how easy and tidy this was. And though I was initially hesitant to snip into the collar, it must be snipped in order to finish the center section of the seam allowance in a different direction than the ends, and it actually feels secure! Yay!

I sewed the longer version of the shirt and it was a little bit ghastly. Way too long, it covered the majority of the shorts. Instead of redoing the hem properly, I folded it up as much I could and popped another line of sewing on top. I was limited by the preexisting button hole, but I still got a luxurious deep hem (with a secret bonus hem inside).

Speaking of luxury, I bought the fancy buttons to finish this because I wanted a discreet feminine touch (that sounds like code for something, but it’s not) to balance the overt masculine influence. These bitsy enamel sweethearts were over a dollar EACH. I sewed them on FIRMLY.

Unfortunately, my buttonholes were a little too big and the shirt kept unbuttoning itself. I wore it a couple times that way before deciding that spending five annoying minutes to fix the problem represented better value than the five annoyed seconds per button over and over, forever, and I hand-sewed the buttonholes a scotch smaller.

I think this fabric might be Oxford cotton. It has no wrong side and a tiny moiré diamond pattern made from a darker blue and a white thread. It’s sturdy enough that I skipped interfacing the facings, and it holds its shape well enough that it’s still cool on hot days, no clinging. The cotton had just enough body to make gathering the sleeve cap ease kind of a pain, but it’s pajamas, so let it pucker!

I have slept in these, but they’re at their best as lazy daytime PJs. They make me want to linger in bed with a locked room mystery and a stack of hot buttered toast like an idle Woosterian aunt-botherer. These pajamas mean business! And my business is pajamas!

Good night & good luck!

Pattern: B6296

Pattern cost: $1.00

Size: 14 top, 16 bottom

Supplies: 3 yards of cotton (Oxford?), $14.97, Sewfisticated; buttons, $6.64, Gather Here; thread, $2.39, Michael’s

Total time: 11.75 hours

Total cost: $25.00

Nutmeg & Tum-Tum

This is the second item I accomplished from my recent plan of three (the summer pajamas are on hold unless I decide to use a solid or something else I can reliably order online, but these newly chilly nights have got me thinking long flannel thoughts anyway). So! Jumpsuit!

My first impression was not madly propitious – kind of a Low Security Pumpkin Spice situation – but I went to Professor Boyfriend and demanded compliments. He told me “It looks like you’re overseeing a dig site” and also to try a belt which were both the right things to say!

The pattern is the Hello Workshop Alex jumpsuit, and while I’m happy with the finished look, I feel like I let the side down by buying it. I couldn’t find a finished size chart anywhere on the website, but after purchase I saw in the file that I’m the largest one. I’ve happily transitioned from being the largest size in a small envelope to the smallest size in a large envelope – lots of room to grow! – so butting up against a limit like that is both surprising and disappointing! Spending my money there was self-defeating and anti-social. I still wanted to sew this pattern, but I waffled on sharing it. I am sharing it, obviously, but I’m making the recommendation to wait to purchase this or another Workshop pattern until they improve their size range. Also, here’s the size chart!

I sewed a size 12 at the bust, grading to a 16 at the waist and hip.

Some good things about the pattern: the fit is comfortable and easy to move in. Getting into the jumpsuit is easier than getting out, but both are doable. Style-wise, I’ve been on the lookout for a shawl collar blouse pattern since seeing this one on Mr and Mrs Rat, and this is pretty much a shawl collar blouse with pants stuck on. So, value! Also, every pattern piece matched at the notches and seamlines, no trouble, except…

Neutral thing: I was EXTREMELY annoyed to discover the front leg fabric piece was about 2” shorter than the back leg. I pulled out the pattern pieces to walk the seamlines (I know, I should have done this before cutting my fabric) and discovered I hadn’t fully unfolded one piece of paper. If the legs on mine seem a little short, um, that’s why. My fault entirely. I compensated with a baby hem.

Finally, the bad thing: the directions. HOT DOG.

There’s no information about finishing seam allowances, stay-stitching, understitching, nothin’. If you’ve got some experience under your belt it won’t matter, but I got the impression that this was a teaching pattern used in their workshops, and it’s at least supposed to be beginner-friendly if not beginner-oriented. The PDF instructions are 12 pages long – 5 of those are essentially a cover with glamour shots (one of the 5 is blank), 4 are general (yardage requirements, lay plans), and only 3 cover the whole jumpsuit. There are 4 diagrams, that’s it, and they’re kind of godawful anyway.

I found the collar directions really hard to understand at a read-through. It was a little easier when I was actually sewing, but my finishing doesn’t feel secure or look neat (the directions tell you to fold under the seam allowances, then join the back and the collar/facing with one line of topstitching).

Next time I’ll try drafting a back facing and following these much more thorough directions.

I reshaped the collar slightly; it’s drafted with a little triangle bite taken out of it (I hesitate to say ‘notch’ because it’s not a notched collar), but even on the Workshop sample this looks pucker-y, so I changed it to a continuous curve. I applied it to the bodice and the facing.

I understitched towards the facing from the waist up to the breakpoint (where the collar rolls outward), and towards the bodice above it. The underlapped piece is behaving nicely, but the overlapped one is breaking lower than it should. I’d like to lower the breakpoint next time anyway, for a deeper V, and make the collar curve smoother/shallower as well. I accommodated the triangle this time in case I changed my mind about using it but next time I won’t bother!

Because of the misplaced roll, my fifth and top button is hidden under the shawl part of the collar.

Originally I wanted to find metal buttons, but I like these little wooden biscuit-y ones, too.

The wrinkles on my upper chest are intense. The bust darts (which appear in no photos, somehow) are definitely too high by an inch or two; maybe lowering them will help in the future.

Oh! Also I added pockets! I used this Threads technique which has directions only in the print edition, but it’s worth searching out. I like it because you can finish the seam allowances together, and then topstitch for added security.

I actually topstitched all the legs seams, just in case. The fabric is soft, light shot cotton – I ordered Harissa, but I’m pretty sure I received Nutmeg. Hard to get upset when I’ve been sewing the heck out of this copper/fox color lately anyway! It’s pajamas-soft and goes great with my plan to #dresslikeacrayon.

I might make another one. I don’t have a specific fabric in mind, but this was comfortable for lounging, hiking, and eating, and YES visiting the bathroom takes a little longer but what, am I in some big hurry? Nah. Plus I want another crack at that collar. And second time sewn, the pattern is free…so…rematch!!

Catch you later!

Pattern: Hello Workshop Alex jumpsuit

Pattern cost: $11.18

Size: 12 bust, 16 waist and hip

Supplies: 3.5 yards of Kaffe Fassett Shot Cotton Harissa, $27.62, fabric.com; buttons, elastic, $3.68, Sewfisticated; thread, $2.39, Michael’s

Total time: 8.75 hours

Total cost: $44.87

So long, short dress

I don’t have so many clothes that I need to swap them seasonally, but a couple times a year I take a Long Hard Look at what’s around and work out what I’m missing, and more importantly, what I’m not using, and why. My size is slowly but surely growing, and I’m comfortable and happy with this; I’m not hoarding anything for a mythical smaller version of myself and I have no trouble getting rid of clothes that don’t fit. But what about clothes that kinda, sorta fit? That would fit if I spent a couple hours on them? Those are tricky.

My Lisette Itinerary dress (OOP) is a particular challenge, because while I just realized I haven’t worn it in over a year, in some ways I’m still pretty pleased with it!

Mainly I’m proud of the hand embroidery, which isn’t perfect, but it took ages.

The sewing is sashiko-inspired – the color palette, the design – but I think it’s probably not sashiko, because I didn’t stack multiple stitches on a long needle. It’s just a regular old backstitch throughout. I’m missing a lot of my usual data on this dress – time, money, even size unfortunately – because I made it 5 or 6 years ago.  But I do remember doing the embroidery for hours and hours by the glow of a British murder series. The serial killer had a thirtyish white brunette wife, a thirtyish white brunette mistress, and he only murdered thirtyish white brunettes. I barely looked up while sewing and when I could I had no idea what was happening to whom. It was a confusing show.

This Lisette dress has fully lined back and front yokes, making it an ideal candidate for embroidery. Both shoulders are standard seams, since I omitted the shoulder placket. I gambled on fitting my head through the head-hole without the closure, and it does. I have to take my glasses off first, though.

The obi-style cloth belt is also self-lined. And I suspect, a smidge small for me! It doesn’t quite meet in the back. I sized my motif to fit the finished belt measurements.

It balances the yokes, IMO! Also, somehow the dress looks even shorter without it?!

Oh yes, this is short. I’m wearing pajama boxers underneath (which I actually always did, even when this was getting regular use, an example of the healthy kind of paranoia).  

My version is more A-line than designed. In the misty past I forgot to grade out from my bust size, which meant it was way too snug on my hips. Instead of buying more fabric and re-cutting the body, I inserted two triangular gussets from the leftovers, widening from about 1” at the underarm to 7” at the hem. They’re invisible from the back of a trotting horse, as Ramona Quimby’s father’s grandmother would say.

There’s not one raw edge inside this bag. The side/gusset seams are flat-felled, the yokes are self-lined, and the armscyes are bound with the same bias tape I used to hem (every ¼” counted).  

Even though it’s old, I’m proud of the workmanship. And I love this fabric! It’s medium-heavy cotton with a ton of texture and next to no wrinkling. And I think the embroidery still looks cool (and is aging shockingly well). Bad news: it’s too small in the biceps now, the armscyes are too high for my comfort, and the upper chest feels a little binding.

It gives me wedgies in my armpits.

So that’s a no.

If I remove the sleeves and lower the armscyes, that could fix all three problems in one swoop. Or I could shorten the sleeves and use the cut-off fabric to add further gussets in the underarms. If I made it much shorter (and a shirt, obvs) I might even have enough ‘new’ fabric to make the sleeves interesting in some way. This would probably represent a few hours work, and it would make the result of many more hours of work wearable.

But at the end of the day, this dress ain’t me anymore, you know? And I don’t see myself reaching for it as a shirt either. So I think I’ll just feel proud, and move on.

One more for the rehoming pile!

Happy Juneteenth, everybody!

Pattern: Lisette Itinerary for Simplicity 2060, view B

Pattern cost: ? pre-spreadsheet

Size: ? pre-spreadsheet – probably a 14, with modifications

Supplies: indigo cotton, white topstitching thread

Total time: ? sorry, this is

Total cost: ? worse than useless

Can’t Elope

First, real and urgent: here’s an efficient way of contributing money to multiple bail funds and advocacy groups, and also an article (with further reading linked) that I found useful.

Now, back to trifles – sewing. I like to buy fabric in person (who doesn’t?), but the coronavirus stay-at-home order has put a geas on that and will for a while. I live in the most densely populated city in New England and we’re taking reopening slow (except for protesting! Okay, trifles again). Anyway, I made a misstep when ordering the fabric for this top. It’s perfectly nice in terms of quality, and I’m often attracted to these pale oranges and buttery yellows, but I couldn’t ‘try it on’ in person so I forgot that they’re a little nudie on me.  

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Much like Rogelio de la Vega, I don’t pop in peach. Actually it’s ‘Cantaloupe Check’ by Carolyn Friedlander, so I guess I don’t pop in cantaloupe. Oh, well! The fabric is soft, stable, and firmly woven, with no wrong side; the layout left a lot of scraps, and the 1/4″ square checks made it extremely efficient to cut and sew those into masks. And I got to try a new-to-me pattern, so the time and materials weren’t wasted, really! Except for paper, since it has a wasteful layout. If they marked both necklines and hems on the same boxy body piece it would save at least a dozen pages.

The pattern is the free Fibre Mood Frances top, and the war on trees aside, it’s fine. I like it on the model a lot, but her fabric is much drapier! My cotton is poofy, not drape-y. Add the check and I might be a farmer, possibly in the dell? The shirt as drafted is almost exactly a box.

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Except the front hem is curved, a little optimistically for my shape!

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Given that I wear my shirts knotted or tucked, I could have skipped it. Still, that wouldn’t have conserved much yardage. Because the sleeves are grown-on, I needed a full 2 yards of 45” wide fabric to fit the pattern pieces, with a lot of wasted space whether I cut them on the straight grain or the cross grain. But I really, really liked the look of those elastic cuffs. (No way the Fibre Mood model is comfy with them stuffed into a blazer, though.)

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By the way, if you know a way of French-seaming a right-angled armpit without clipping into the seam allowance, please let me know! I couldn’t find one. I stitched the seam a couple times for extra strength, but I still feel funny about the two tiny raw spots when everything else is enclosed.

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The shirt tips back on me. I have to fiddle with it more than I’d like to keep it symmetrical/covering my bra straps (the peep through the large armscye of my quite sensible bra is fine; I pick my battles). I briefly considering elasticizing the waist as well, which I think would keep it in place, but that would be a deliberately poof-forward solution!

One random thing I liked about this pattern: the neck binding length is provided. It saved me a step (normally I pin, measure, un-pin, join my binding in the round, then pin, then sew…I could skip right to pin and sew, nice!).

I’m wearing this shirt with the first shorts muslin of my Perse-phony pants draft. The buttons are waaay under the overlap (too far!), but as the denim relaxes, I’m having an easier time getting in and out.

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The back pockets are in extremely the wrong place. They were the spontaneous product of a couple large scraps and a desire to hide my pointy dart ends, but seeing these pictures, I might actually care enough to drop them a good 3”.

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I love my butt! It deserves better!!

I have no grand pronouncements about the Fibre Mood Frances; I think I still kinda like it, but my iteration needs a new home (or I could get a tan, but actually I can’t). I’ve got some ivory rayon leftover from a long-ago project and I’m waffling over trying again in that.  And if I do, you’ll hear it here first on Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me!

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And, why not make that donation recurring? See you next time. xo

Pattern: Fibre Mood Frances

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: M

Supplies: 2 yards of Cantaloupe Check cotton, $18.00, Gather Here; 3 yards 1″ elastic, Gather Here, $5.40; thread from stash

Total time: 4.75 hours

Total cost: $23.40

M7360 Sleeveless

I took a break from enthusiastically sewing pants to squeak out a little something to wear on my top half. I say little because it required very little fabric – I used the last odds and ends of a piece of chambray I’ve had for at least 5 years. Until now I hadn’t tried a pattern that would fit on the scraps, but this one did!

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The pattern is M7360, and it’s also been sitting in my house for years. I think the spirits were in a good mood when I rediscovered it. I had just decided that I shouldn’t buy any more patterns before either trying or donating my unused ones, so I recycled a stack of assembled PDFs that were no longer my size or style, and moved paper packets into my sewing drawer for later sorting. Separately, I looked over my clothing Pinterest board for general inspiration. I saw a shirt I liked, wondered which of my existing patterns would be easiest to adapt to match, opened the drawer, and found this on top!

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A great place to start, right? I traced a size 12 with a few changes. I combined views, using the cropped length (view A), but without side vents. Instead of cutting a single front with a separate popover placket, I cut two mirrored fronts with grown-on plackets (I measured the finished width of the placket, doubled it and added 1 seam allowance). I also drafted 3” deep hem facings and omitted the pocket.

I did a quick and dirty layout on my chambray and decided with some grainline hanky-panky the pattern pieces would all fit! I put the traced pattern and the fabric into a Ziplock bag and left it there for weeks. You know, to marinate. And judge me.

Anyway, then my city locked down!

My crisis management skills were apparently all learned from Molly the American Girl Doll, so the immediate effect of what I’ve heard described as reasonable panic is that I stopped wasting things. I wasn’t particularly profligate before (absolutely I will reuse tin foil), but I went into, like, a scrap fugue, and spent a week dawn-to-dusk stashbusting with “USE IT UP WEAR IT OUT MAKE IT DO OR DO WITHOUT” echoing in my brain. (Also, I planted a container garden (Jade Cross Brussels sprouts and raspberries so far – this spring is cold, but tomatoes are next!)). The result: masks on masks on masks, my Perse-phonies, and thou this top.   

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The shirt mostly came together smoothly. It’s a coupla bust darts, some short seams, and a lot of straight lines. I think the bust dart is just about right; fabric catches above my bust when I raise my arms, but when I tug it down, it sits correctly. Maybe I could use more space, or maybe it’s a fabric/friction thing?

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I big-time flubbed the collar, though. The collar pattern piece is essentially the letter “C”; the resulting collar has a much shorter top edge than bottom edge, so it lies flat and close to the garment wearer’s neck.

I couldn’t sew the dang thing. I tried my now-usual technique, which attaches the collar stand to itself before the shirt neck, and it was bulky and weird and bad. I couldn’t get the opposing curves to meet, despite clipping aggressively. And I didn’t have nearly enough fabric to try again. The only ‘spare’ fabric I had, in fact, was my hem facings.

Hence the double-fold hem!

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The hem facing pieces were JUST long enough to recut the collar, but not as a “C” – instead I used the collar stand piece from the Thread Theory Fairfield, lengthened slightly. This I can sew. I skipped the interfacing (I blame fugue!), so my collar is floppy and fancy-free, and it flippy-floppies in or out according to the breeze.  

I added topstitching to the long edges, so it doesn’t collapse completely, but I’d like to learn to sew the collar as drafted. Any tips? It stumped me completely. (Also, today I’m not so much accessorized as I am garnished.)

By the way, if you were wondering, my city does have a mask recommendation. Luckily taking blogging pictures is great practice in finding and remembering unpopulated nooks, but I wear it to and from locations (and I kept it tucked in my fanny pack for quick retrieval if needed).  

I’m hoping to give up this particular accessory someday, but happy to wear it in the meantime!

Anyway, this is a nice little pattern – simple (collar excepted), adaptable, a bit of subtle shaping, and it works with small amounts of friendly fabrics. I hope you find some pattern gems buried in your stashes, too!

Pattern: M7360

Pattern cost: $5.00 (best guess)

Size: 12

Supplies: chambray from stash; thread, Michael’s, $1.79

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $6.79

Papao pants

Or according Professor Boyfriend, “Pa-POW!” pants. This is a rare picture of me standing regular in these, because they make me feel very FaSHuN like I should make angles with my body.

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A good feeling! These are the new Ready to Sew Papao pants, part of a collection of three patterns. The trio was released with eerie prescience, because they all look super comfortable and none of them require notions beyond thread. I might just surrender and buy the Patsy overalls, too. The patterns all call for natural, stable, lightweight fabrics, so it’s basically a tiger trap with my favorite sewing fibers on top and Paypal at the bottom.

Anyhoozle, big surprise, I love them.

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I had a little trouble sourcing an ideal fabric. The samples are sewn from 30€/meter hemp fabric and the designer’s self-dyed cotton bedsheet, respectively, both of which are inaccessible to me for different reasons. As those weren’t options, I wanted cotton twill. I had trouble scrounging up non-stretch non-polyester fine line twill (fan favorite Ventana twill is about 2 oz./70 g heavier than recommended), but I ended up finding it at Fashion Fabrics Club, a.k.a. Denver Fabrics.

Whether that name makes you shudder or cheer seems entirely up to chance. It’s a true gamble (try searching either business name + reviews, and strap in), but this Ash Brown Fine Line twill was as promised. The second fabric I ordered (cotton denim) was very much neither cotton nor a denim, but their return policy is deliberately obstructive, so I’ll bring it to the next Artisan Asylum’s swap and just tell myself I paid more per yard for this fabric which I DO like. Caveat very emptor, my shopping experiment is complete, I won’t order from them again.

I do love this color, it’s such a neutral team player, though when I make a second pair I want it to be bright pickle green. Send up the Bat-signal if you know of a fabric like that!! Pattern prep and sewing both went pretty smoothly. I obviously chose the view with the front pocket.

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Wide though not deep, a true pocket-of-all-trades! I graded from 43 at the waist to 45 at the hip (my measurements: 31” waist, 43” hips). I forgot to grade the facing pieces accordingly and cut them in a straight size 43, so the bottom edge is unfortunately a tiny bit short, and I have some puckers in the pants fabric here and there. Honestly the grading was unnecessary; if you’re just a few sizes apart, choose whichever size is larger. If your hips are larger, you could cinch the waist more, and if your waist is larger, terrific, the pants are meant to be loose through the hips anyway. And there’s generous crotch clearance!

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I have mega drag lines and I fully do not care. It’s a relaxed, body-friendly design, and a little extra fabric is all good.

This was one of those fun puzzle-patterns where I wasn’t totally sure how things would turn out, so I mostly followed the directions with a couple trivial changes.

1. I topstitched the ties.

2. There’s a ‘belt loop’ (more of a belt patch) on the center back. You’re supposed to sew two pieces right-sides together and then turn them right-side out to make a self-lined rectangle, but I think my corners look a little mushy when I do that. So I sewed the long edges of a tube right-sides-together, turned, tucked in the short edges, and topstitched. (Side note: that belt loop/patch is extremely helpful for identifying where to put my legs! Trickier than you might think!).

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3. If you follow the directions, you end up with the short serged edge of the inner tie poking out of the front of the pants. It’s hidden inside the wrap, but I knew it would bother me, even when I couldn’t see it. Next time I’d turn the ends in, like I did for the belt loop. This time I had already topstitched and serged, so I tucked a little patch in between the front crotch seams, over the tie. Its finished size, after I turned in one long and one short edge, is about 1” wide by 2” tall; the seam allowance inside the pants is serged. I topstitched it in place to hide the serged end of the tie. And now I share my crotch secret with you.

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Is it really for motivated beginners, as the old song says? I’m not sure. It’s easy to fit and it uses friendly fabrics, but by the end I was manipulating a lot of fabric in the machine. But they also come together pretty quickly. And there are moments that delighted me, like flipping the facing over and finding the little strap openings really lined up! So something for everybody, I hope.

And I am deeply motivated to wear them! I actually like getting dressed (look at the rule-follower thriving on structure, bless), especially when my daywear is as comfortable as loungewear, and these pants are that comfortable. And I’m happy to recommend a pattern that accommodates waist sizes from 24” to 49” and hips from 35” to 60”. And I do mean accommodate; due to the wrap closure you can adjust this to be comfortable throughout the day (and I assume over the course of many days, but I made them, like, a week ago, so we’ll see).  

Now POSE!

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See you later, be excellent to each other!

Pattern: RTS Papao pants

Pattern cost: $11.37

Size: 43 waist, 45 hips

Supplies: 3 yards of Ash Brown Fine Line twill, $34.05, FFC; thread from stash

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $45.42

Lilac in Spring

One of the few patterns I bought instantly and sewed instanter was the Sew House Seven Burnside Bibs. They haven’t appeared on the blog despite being one of my favorite things, because I made them exactly as written; I even used the Jungle green Essex cotton/linen that’s shown in the sample. They might still show up someday because they’re terrific and make me feel like a small-town florist in a musical about a small-town florist, but it took me years to make a second pair! And as soon as I had, mere moments to wear them!

It’s spring, and I’ve decided to start dressing like it. I’ve been dressing defensively lately – as Northern hemisphere winter was replaced by global and personal uncertainty – and that’s meant dark colors, heavy fabrics, lots of wrapping up and absolutely no chance of seeing of my own toes (it reminds me of Liz Lemon flipping through her closet in that one episode of 30 Rock – “Grey, maroon, navy – am I depressed?! Later!”). But I can keep what makes me feel secure in those choices (sturdy fabrics! Pants so wide that they socially distance for you!) and add some breeziness and color.  

I’ve historically avoided purple but I had a yen for a spring pair of Bibs and this just-right shade of purple (called “Lilac”) edged out mint green and sunshine yellow. Dang, now I want those too – I could dress like a package of Peeps! I arranged my paper pattern pieces in my secret weapon, a.k.a. my front hall. My hallway has one area that’s about 45” wide, which then widens to about 54”, so it’s ideal for laying out pattern pieces and calculating yardage on different fabric widths. I knew I wanted to use Essex cotton/linen again, for the structure, and gambled that I could get away with 3 yards instead of the 3 5/8ths called for.

These are the cropped view, no darts! I just made it!

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I had to cut both front bibs on the crossgrain, as well as the waistbands, but I’m pretty jazzed at how little fabric was left over AND that I could save some spondoolies. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend this for directional fabric. I made one minor change to this version; instead of sewing the front pockets as patch pockets (I wasn’t happy with the neatness of the curved edge on my first pair), I sewed them as single-layer slash pockets. I’m not convinced this was the right choice, as it diminishes their visual impact. However, they are neat! And it’s easy to use the existing pieces to make this change (patch pocket above, single-layer pocket below). The pocket facing stays the same.

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I topstitched the pocket bag edge twice to anchor it. Everything else got one line. And liked it!

I did the fold-and-topstitch technique for the long straps because you’re going to have to lock down my region a whooole lot longer before I think it sounds fun to turn a long skinny tube right-side-out. For some reason my brain went pbbt when it was time to make the belt loops, though, and I folded them in thirds instead of quarters (the fabric selvage is the outside third, but still). It would be nice if they were stronger, especially the outermost loops, as those see the most stress.

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I’m saving my scraps, though, and if I need to replace them, I will!

Sewing this went very smoothly. It’s not just straight lines, but really nothing challenging; it’s a lovely relaxing sew that zips right along, and I think a beginner who was enthusiastic about topstitching could make a beautiful pair. I only had one little wrinkle, when I needed to ease the inner bib’s bottom edge to match the outer bib. I hand-basted the layers together, and used those stitches to gather the inner bib edge slightly, too. Topstitching holds everything in place and any literal little wrinkles are hidden on the inside.  

Fit is sort of beside the point with the wide legs and the cinched waist. I sewed a 14, no zipper. I could lose 4” in width without dire consequences but I like the extra extra fabric, it makes the gathering more dramatic!

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These Burnsides are worn over a Roscoe blouse, by the way, which I sewed in April 2018. Still not blogged, but someday! For now it’s enough to say: I sewed the smallest size (!!!), and it was the star of my latest late-night closet fashion show, so I’ve been wearing it a lot lately.    

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I like its neckline, I like the curved bib neckline, I like ‘em together.

I’m really pleased to have added a second pair of Burnside Bibs to my wardrobe – the only thing slowing me down was choosing a color, and I’m in the mood for all sorts of colors right now. The witch hazel is blooming, so is the forsythia, and I’m pretending to know which is which. It’s a weird spring, but it’s spring, baby.

I hope you’re keeping well, and if you feel like sewing, I hope you’re sewing something that makes you happy! Zum Wohl!

Pattern: Sew House Seven Burnside Bibs

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 14, dartless view, curved bib, cropped

Supplies: 3 yards Essex linen/cotton in Lilac, $34.46, fabric.com; thread, Tags, $3.28

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $37.78

Pattern: True Bias Roscoe blouse

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: XS

Supplies: 2 yards Treasured Kermes rayon in Crimson, $23.73, Red Beauty Textiles; thread from stash

Total time: 4.25 hours

Total cost: $23.73