Plaid Granville

I’ve been meaning for a while to add a home-sewn plaid flannel shirt to my closet. This isn’t the shirt of my dreams, but it’s going to get a lot of wear.

This is a Sewaholic Granville with the same fit modifications as my other Sewaholic Granville. It’s a little less successful in this thick fabric, as it’s kind of occupying an awkward middle ground between indoor shirt and overshirt; in retrospect, I’d push it wider. I love the fabric though, a black-and-ivory Kaufman flannel. This may have wet my whistle for sewing an actual overshirt. Kaufman does staggeringly beautiful speckled flannel solids now!! I saw the olive in person and it’s gorgeous, plus this substrate is so satisfying to sew. Even though this Granville isn’t perfect, it’s cozy and I enjoyed the process.

I mostly rolled right along and followed the directions with no wacky diversions. As they were last time, the sleeves are really too long. Excellent for tucking cold fingers inside but not so good for washing dishes. This was a bright-but-cold finger-hiding day. I’m wearing them unrolled as a rule, partly because this is a heavy flannel for chilly weather, but also because I feel I earned it. I put in the time to get those sleeves right!

Slightly embarrassing after my recent tough talk about tower plackets, but I messed these up. Or not these, precisely, but their predecessors. I attempted to pattern match and got it exactly reversed – an ivory stripe on black, and a black stripe on ivory. I finished the shirt and actually wore it a couple times that way. Then because new sewing is on pause (I can’t pre-wash fabric right now) but that sewing mojo has to go SOMEWHERE, I sat down on a quiet Saturday morning and did it all again.

Luckily, because I sewed the cuffs in this way, I could unpick them without removing the button or worrying about the buttonhole. I unpicked and discarded the old placket pieces, and whip-stitched the cut line on the sleeve shut. I also unpicked the sleeve seam to just above the elbow (twice, because it’s French seamed) so I could spread the cuff end flat.

Time to cut a new, hopefully matching placket. Obviously my original system didn’t work, so I did the one thing I skipped amid all my mental contortions of figuring out the plaid the first time: I Googled it. It’s actually pretty simple. This tutorial is even from the Granville sewalong. I probably should have done that earlier! This time it went smoothly, though this fabric is a little too bulky for a pristine finish. The little buttons at the top are just for show.

I also sewed the hem a few times. First I sewed it exactly as written, but that left just an awkward flash of white at the center front, and I’d prefer to end on a dark horizontal stripe. So I unpicked the hem, straightened the front curve so no ivory would show when folded, and sewed it again. Then I realized I had cut one of the fronts slightly askew and the plaid was asymmetric. So I unpicked the longer side, trimmed it, and hemmed it again. Then I decided I didn’t like the look of cream thread topstitched on the black front edge there, so I hand-picked the hem with grey thread and unpicked the machine stitching. And here it remains!

If I get seized by another re-sewing mania, my next target would be the collar. I folded the button bands a little too much, so they’re wider than designed (for some reason my math was off on the day I cut). I should have shortened the collar piece slightly to compensate, but I didn’t think of it, so it ends a little too close to the end of the collar stand. This isn’t a big deal when I wear the shirt open, but if I want to button it all the way up the plaid lines diverge at the neck where it pulls apart to make space for the collar.

I’ve been considering adding flaps to the chest pockets, too. I don’t think it looks right to cut rectangular plaid on the bias, so I cut the pockets on-grain and pattern-matched the fabric underneath as far as I could. It diverges slightly because it covers the dart ends, so the bottom edge of the pocket isn’t quite parallel to the horizontal stripe anymore, but they’re still blending in pretty well. So what I have here is two fairly invisible pockets that I don’t put things in, because who uses chest pockets. Flaps would give them a little more context. On the other hand, do I need to draw focus to my invisible unused chest pockets, or am I just going loopy due to lack of new projects?

You might notice my total sewing time seems a little short for all the monkey business mentioned above. That’s because those changes were made after I wore the shirt in public, which means I mentally filed them under ‘mending’, and I don’t record mending times. If some sort of sewing authority ever audits my process I’m gonna be in trouble!

Are you enjoying our transition to long dark cozy evenings? It’s the stay-homiest time of year! I hope you’re gaining some quality sewing time. And I hope I’m gaining a washing machine soon, so I can sew new stuff too!

Pattern: Sewaholic Granville shirt

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 12, modified fit

Supplies: 3 yards Kaufman Mammoth Flannel in Ivory, Ryco’s, $33.00; thread; Ryco’s, $3.25; buttons from stash

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $36.25

Amelia Bomber

I finally made this pattern!

I wasn’t feeling too thrilled to do so (I bought it several years ago) but I had sufficient useful scraps and the pattern was a bit spendy to rehome without trying once, so why not, right? And I like my finished SOI Amelia bomber way more than I expected. In fact I didn’t take it off during my waking hours for the first 2 days it existed, and I kept winking at myself in every mirror I passed, so that’s a good sign!

Let’s jump ahead: I love the finished piece. Let’s rewind: the sewing experience was incoherent. The draft had thoughtful details, plenty of notches, and perfectly matched seams, but the directions were garbage served caliente.  

I know there’s certain pattern companies that get bagged on a lot and others that get treated as Above Reproach; I think SOI ends up in the first category more often than not, and I’m not trying to take cheap shots at an easy target. Honestly, the pattern is great. And it has a fully illustrated booklet now – I wouldn’t mind a peek at it! – but I was working from the pages I clipped from the ex-magazine, and they were frustrating at best. It’s a whole lot of text with quite small photographs, and the sample is made from a busy fabric with a black background. While they’re more useful than no illustrations/photos/diagrams at all, they are baddy bad bad.

The sewing is also sequenced really poorly. I think it makes more sense to sew the outer, then the lining, then attach them to each other, but following the directions means sewing the outer shoulders, then the lining shoulders, then the outer side seams, then lining side seams, etc. And if that sentence made your eyes spin you will know how I felt about reading 54 steps presented without benefit from the enter key (so much text! So little leading!). They are basically sufficient, emphasis on basically.

The assist goes VERY much to Sewing and Slapdashery, for making it clear I should just buy a 16” zip, instead of yanking 6” of metal teeth off of the 22” zip asked for by the pattern. If you have the correct length, you can also go ahead and ignore the direction to fold over the ends of the zip tape. Buy a 16” zip. It’s strictly easier in every way.

A tip of the hat also to Deer and Doe’s double-welt pocket instructions. I borrowed the pattern pieces from my copy of the Lupin jacket and shifted the placement down about 5/8” down to avoid Amelia’s dart. They are silly dinky pockets for a silly dinky jacket, and they can fit either my stuff or my hands though not both simultaneously, but I’m  glad they’re there. The pocket bags are plain black cotton and the bottom edge is handily trapped by the waistband, so they stay put.

I topstitched my outer darts and shoulder seams because the wool was so springy. Then I rediscovered my I-found-a-piece-of-wood-style clapper and clappered everything else. I made a cape from this wool last year; I barely wear it (shocker) and I find it smells a bit sheepy, but I can’t smell this jacket. Probably I’ve gone nose-blind.

I shortened the collar for style reasons rather than fabric limitations (even though I have just bare scraps left, which is great). I cut it as directed and then spontaneously sewed it to be 1.5” tall finished just by pivoting before I was supposed to, then trimming the extra.

Aside from that and adding the pockets, this is a straight size 12. I even cut the waist elastic to the given length, no adjustment needed.

Actually I only had enough 2” wide elastic for the waistband and one cuff, so the other cuff contains 1” wide elastic zigzagged to itself. If you can spot the difference you’ve got a better eye than me.

My favorite detail of the draft is this elbow dart in the lining – the same area is eased in the outer – which just feels classy. I don’t know anything about coats really but I have a perfectly comfortable fit and range of motion, and this is a slim-fitting sleeve, so some of that credit goes to the elbow dart, I assume!

My least-favorite detail is the pleating I shoved into the waist edge of the lining. There’s quite a bit of handsewing in this project, but the only really inconvenient bit is that one. By the time the lining is meant to be handsewed into place, the waistband elastic is already added, so I had to stake the nearly-finished coat to my ironing board like I was butterflying a trout to stretch the waistband flat again. Plus the lining is supposed to be gathered to fit and then have the seam allowance turned under, all in slippy lining fabric. No thank you! I turned and pressed the lining edge, but bunging in a handful of pleats seemed more doable than evenly gathering a quickly-shredding fabric already attached to a jacket arranged like a ritual ironing board sacrifice. I wish I had just done one large pleat, but I don’t wish it hard enough to do anything about it.

The lining was also given to me in the dim and misty past, by the way, so the boughten materials were the pattern, the thread, the elastic, and the zipper. Not to brag but I have ordered the HECK out of some zippers lately. Check out that inoffensive near-match, baby.

If I was going to make one more change I would add a great big wacky iron-on patch to the back of this jacket! Technically I still could. Maybe I will. In the meantime, please enjoy my discretion re: ‘this is the bomb’ puns.

See you soon! Happy October!!  

Pattern: SOI Amelia bomber

Pattern cost: $14.10

Size: 12

Supplies: leftover gray wool suiting, gold Bemberg rayon, from stash; YKK #5 16″ Antique Brass Jacket Zipper – Graphite, Wawak; 1 yard 2″ elastic, Sewfisticated; thread, Michael’s; total $5.13

Total time: 10.5 hours

Total cost: $19.23

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

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

Witchy Weekend

Never before seen on this blog: A HAT! Oh! I didn’t make it though!

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And it’s not the point of this post! Today is pants. But I’ve owned the hat for a couple years and only in the last few weeks have figured out how to wear it (hats are hard, aren’t they?) so excuse my pride. Hat people, I am one of you now! For brief bursts, before losing my nerve!

Anyway, the pants. They’re a combination of two Megan Nielsen patterns – the Tanias and the Flints. The fabric is repurposed from what was briefly the skirt portion of a failed dress which was itself part of a failed Halloween costume (this costume was the ultimate ‘fail better’ for me – I also got two Hemlock tees out of it!). The skirt was based on the Tania culottes pattern pieces with the crotch extension whacked off. That’s step one of my probably ill-advised but ultimately successful pattern mash-up, as seen below.  

Okay, picture a giant flashing red light: THIS IS NOT BEST PRACTICES. THIS IS NOT EVEN RECOMMENDED PRACTICES. But it IS what I did…

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 After that, I just sewed these exactly like the Flint culottes. I got lucky that they came together without drama; it also helped that these were both MN patterns. Little things like the consistent pocket extension made merging these patterns a lot easier. I’ve absolutely gotten my money’s worth from the Flint pattern, even before taking into account the cash I’ve saved on zippers!

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And the time spent buying them, too! It’s nice to be able to dive into a sewing experiment without taking a bus to a shop first.

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The finished garment is shorter and wider than the Flints, but narrower and more pants-like than the Tanias. The resurrected fabric is a cheapy linen/rayon blend. I have mixed feelings about it; I certainly would have been less cavalier about cutting and experimenting with a more expensive fabric. But, since I like the pants, I now wish they were made from something sturdier!

We’ve had a lovely long warm fall, but the mornings and evenings are chilly, so I’ve been tossing this shawl over a lot of outfits –

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Not me-made, sadly, but it’s just a rectangle with a slit down the front. It’s essentially one of these or these without the belt openings. I’d like to try actually following one of those tutorials at some point.

I get a ton of use out of these pants. They’re pretty much a three-season garment – swishy in summer, spooky in fall, cozy in winter with thick tights. Dress ‘em up, dress ‘em down, but their ultimate purpose is startling people who say something nice about your skirt.

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“THANKS! THEY’RE PANTS!!”

I feel witchy and practical in these. I’m not Gothic or Victorian (no ruffles, lacing, or intricate details) but maybe I can cultivate a semi-minimalist witchsona (witchsewna?!). For clothing goals – not to mention lifestyle goals – clean house, homemade cider!! – I’m thinking Morwen from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. Except she has magic sleeves that can store supplies for days. I’ll get to work on that…  

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And in the meantime, I’ll just be here concocting spells sewing plans in my poison garden the local native pollinator garden, listening to my Halloween mix…see you next time!

Pattern: MN Tanias and MN Flints

Pattern cost: NA (already used)

Size: Tanias: L, Flints: 14

Supplies: remade Halloween costume; thread from stash

 Total time: 4 hours

Total cost: $0.00

M7840 Bigshirt

I made a big shirt.

A biiig shirt.

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Can you sense my wild enthusiasm for it here?

Okay, it doesn’t look totally terrible in photos. But how about…NOW?

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Help, something is following me!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not tall. But neither am I short. I’m a happy medium – a standard American female 5’ 5”. Why is my behind shrouded so?!

OKAY, let’s talk about this for real. The pattern is M7840, and it’s a pretty recent release. I spotted it in some “mad for plaid” sort of round up (I am, I am mad for plaid) but it was the Woman’s model sample that really compelled me. She looks so cozy and warm and stylish! Her glasses are cute! I wanted those things, so naturally I messed around and paired the short sleeves of that view with the bananarama high-low hem. NOPE.

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This is not the comforting winter bag of my dreams. Drafts go right up those wide, cropped sleeves and it turns out even a nice squishy flannel like this Mammoth flannel doesn’t feel that warm when it stands away from my body. Plus the collar is BIG. It flops open and if it buttoned (it doesn’t) I could still easily fit a hand down it. I like oversized shirts, but I underestimated the importance of a nicely fitting collar. “Deep and floppy” more or less sums it up.

I should have gone looking for a better partial placket tutorial online, but I tried to brute-force it. Unfortunately my attempt based on the pattern booklet is a bit of a mess. Not so much the slight plaid misalignment (I can actually live with that), but I couldn’t figure out how to finish the bottom; eventually I relied on my experience of sleeve plackets, a snip, and a prayer. No bueno. There’s a teeny little hole there now. I fused a bit of scrap fabric to the wrong side. We’ll see if it holds. I’ve gotten spoiled by extra diagrams for new-to-me sewing processes, something McCalls strangely did not anticipate?!

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So what went well? I like the fabric (Mammoth flannel is so easy to work with), plus I like large scale plaid + large scale shirt, at least in theory. The width is kind of cool too, at least when I have a wingspan! That’s probably why the only photographs of it I quite like are the ones where I’m standing like Jesus. It was also fun planning the plaid placement (asymmetrical on front, balanced on back).

The added benefit of all this fabric is that I can remake it. Yep. I’ve pretty much already determined to shorten the back hem by 3 – 5 inches, and I have just enough leftover fabric to recut longer sleeves. If ‘more fabric’ doesn’t somehow solve my ‘lotsa fabric’ problem, I might just go nuts and recut this into my standard shirt-saver – a Melilot. Say buh-bye to the big shirt, folks. They can’t all be winners!

Pattern: M7840

Pattern cost: $8.00

Size: 10

Supplies: 3 yards Robert Kaufman Mammoth flannel in Denim, $21.75, fabric.com; thread from stash

Total time: 5.25 hours

Total cost: $29.75