Sandhill Sling

My heavy-hitting Making backpack is sadly wearing out (heavy-hitting in terms of how often I use it, but the fabric is actually shredding, wah). But that gives me a good excuse to sew a new bag!

This is another Noodlehead pattern, the Sandhill Sling.

I bought the paper pattern. In this case that means a nice little plastic bag containing an instruction booklet, a rounded-corner template, and a cutting list, but it was the same price as the PDF so might as well! As a bag amateur, I also appreciate a physical booklet (easier to follow).

I kind of like the feeling of being busted back down to beginner. I also picked a new-to-me fabric, dry oilskin from Merchant & Mills. It is fine. Sorry, pronounce that “fyne”. This bright navy color isn’t particularly eye-catching but it was mostly a dream to sew. I was originally very careful with it – skipping a pre-wash, storing it on an old gift paper tube instead of folding it – but it’s a sturdy fabric meant for heavy use and I quickly got over my preciousness.

Tolkien reportedly thought the most beautiful words in the English language were “cellar door”, but I guess no one ever told him “you can skip the interfacing”. The pattern didn’t explicitly say so, but the oilskin was so stiff already and I thought interfacing would make the bag layers unmanageably thick. Plus I had no way to attach it. You’re not supposed to apply heat to oilskin (just handling the fabric with my body heat gave my hands a non-unpleasant waxy feeling), and in fact the only time I used an iron during this whole project was turning back and pressing the edges of the lining where it’s attached to the zipper.

Finger-pressing dry oilskin is amazing. It creases like thick paper and then it just stays put. If you need it to be flat again, you just smooth it, and then it’s flat. It doesn’t shift, it barely frays, and it doesn’t grow at all. At one point about 2/3rds into the project you’re supposed to true up your main panels and mine were exactly the same size as when I started.

The only downside of dry oilskin is that it doesn’t really heal. Solution: just go ahead and get it right the first time. Iiii did not.

All of its friendly qualities became frenemies when it was time to attach the gusset.

I sewed the lining first to get comfortable attaching the gusset loop to the rounded corners, and in quilting cotton it was a relative breeze. It conformed to the curves and I invisibly eased the straight edges a little when necessary. Lemon-squeezy.

Attempting that same step in a thick, rigidly stable fabric that shows every stitching hole? NOT SQUEEZY AT ALL.

I got everything attached but not well. I misaligned the main panels, placed the cross-body strap off-center, sewed the top edge of the front panel less-than-parallel to its zip, and gathered one straight edge on a few inches of the gusset. I finished the bag (including hand-sewing the lining to the zip), but it was bad. I felt bad when I looked at it. I started making plans to give it away but I didn’t want to punish anybody by giving them a bag that was madly askew. Here’s a couple un-glamour shots:

 I fretted about it for 48 hours then decided it was time for this mésalliance to end in divorce and ripped the outer layers apart.  

Side note: I had more than enough fabric to recut pieces as necessary, which made this decision easier. The pattern called for 5/8 yards, I bought ¾ yards, and even though I cut the strap out of self-fabric I probably would have been fine with ½ yard total. That said, I didn’t have to recut anything. I re-measured the gusset loop and the seamline of the main panels (easy to do when the needle holes are just hanging out) and discovered my gusset was 1” longer than my seamline. I’m not sure how or why this happened, but I sewed out the excess, and it’s a billion times better now. A billion. I ran the numbers.   

Also, once I was in there anyway I figured I might as well make another change. Using the leftover foam from my Making backpack, I cut two Sandhill Sling main panels sans seam allowance, and now they’re floating around between the outer and the lining. I couldn’t work out a way to attach them (probably should have left them some SA after all), but they seem to be staying put! I didn’t have enough foam to construct a whole third inner layer, but I’m not sure that would have been the right move anyway; the Making backpack just has it on the big panels.

My second-sew-around didn’t affect the lining, or I might have added an internal hook for keys. If/when I make a second, I’ll probably use foam again, plus add a key hook, and maybe some webbing carry handles a-la-Raspberry Rucksack, too. Kind of a greatest hits tour of all the bag patterns I’ve sewn so far.

I love hardware but I hate buying it. Mine is all from Wawak and I’m happy with the quality and even happier I could buy it all in one place, with the exception of the webbing; I chose to sew the self-fabric strap 100% so I wouldn’t have to order from two places.

Also at the last moment I changed my zipper color from “Navy” to “Pennant Blue” and I have zero regrets! I ran the numbers on that, too.

Last time I sewed a Noodlehead pattern I bought the hardware kit from there, but the Sandhill Sling kit is divided into two lots. Zippers and hardware are separate and neither includes webbing, and in the operatic words of the sex pest from the musical I cannot stop listening to, “I don’t know about THAT, Pierre!”.

Happily I do like my finished bag, part 2: Bag Harder. It’s nicely hands-free but I can swing it to the front if I want to get something out of it. Due to my manhandling, it already looks pleasantly rumpled and broken-in, much like Scott Bakula. I’d like to make another one for Professor Boyfriend. Maybe that time I’ll measure *before* punching a ton of permanent holes in it. Learning Is Fun!!

Pattern: Sandhill Sling, view A

Pattern cost: $9.00

Size: NA

Supplies: 3/4 yard M&M Dry Oilskin in Navy, 3/4 yard Resilient Creatures quilting cotton, Gather Here, $36.58; hardware  (Antique Brass, Pennant Blue), Wawak, $12.73

Total time: 5.25 hours

Total cost: $48.31

Ol’ Farmer Pants

My students have been known to comment on my outfits, never more so than when I wear overalls. I got a very suspicious “Why do you like those overalls so much?!” the first time I wore my Roberts dungarees. This pair of Pauline Alice Turia dungarees has been called my “weird old farmer pants”. One of my favorite so-called compliments, though I can’t remember which pair it applied to, was when a kiddo told me she liked my underalls. “You mean my overalls?” “No, I mean your shirt.”  (A lot of them are turning ten this year and every year they get more hilarious. I’m very fond of the hooligans.)

Anyway, despite the bad press, I’m still wearing these! I’m leaning into the farmer aesthetic, too, though anyone doing actual manual labor would laugh these right out of town – more on that later. I was hoping to wear this outfit to host a Late-November Gratefulness Eating Day for my parents (gratitude and stuffing are nice, Thanksgiving is iffy), but maybe next year, as we’re not doing any gathering. The smart money says I’m wearing jimjams right now but you never know!   

When I made this pattern in 2017 it was the only indie overalls pattern I found. Since then the options have exploded (outwards in two directions, towards loose wide bags and sexy little numbers) but this sits right about in the middle, a classic Osh Kosh B’Gosh shape. One benefit of that particular timing – 2017, not a lot of other options – is that it’s been blogged a lot. There are some truths universally acknowledged, like the included back pockets are comically small. I used the CC Ginger jeans back pockets instead, and I could have gone bigger; a non-fitted bottom means more fabric to cover.

They’re placed too far out and up, but that’s on me.

Another common change, it seems everyone agrees; two hip zippers is one too many! I’ve complained about invisible zippers in the past, but there’s not a lot of evidence of why we don’t get along, because I avoid using them. I used one here. Alright, deep breath. Here it is.

Come closer, my pretty. Closerrr.

It’s bad!! It’s bad at the top, where I couldn’t figure out how to neatly finish it! It’s bad at the bottom, where (I assume, this was years ago) my over-zealous unpicking ripped past the seam allowance and I bartacked a piece of scrap fabric to the wrong side! I admit fault at the bottom there, but I don’t feel totally responsible for the top, because the waist edge is finished with a single turn to the wrong side. There’s no waistband/facing/binding in which to hide that zipper end.

That edge is my biggest complaint about the pattern. The opening of the patch pocket is finished the same way, but that’s not carrying any weight. For the join between the bib and the pants, a seam that experiences a lot of stress, it’s a weak finish. It’s why I could never wear these to do physical work. And sewn in this lightweight corduroy, a single line of stitching with the seam allowance pressed down is basically a perforated line.

After several wears my bib started ripping right off at both ends! Originally I mended those edges with some discreet hand sewing, but that didn’t last long. So once again I popped a little piece of scrap fabric behind the rip and bartacked the crud out of it. Now that’s ripping too. I really like corduroy, but 21 wale might be for a good time, not for a long time; the pants I made Professor Boyfriend from this same fabric are nearly translucent on the seat. I guess 3 years of wear isn’t a terrible innings, but I might try to fix these one more time, if I can figure out how.    

I fit these on the fly! My 2017 spreadsheet doesn’t include the size I started from (weird thing to be coy about) but my best guess would be a 48, the largest available size, since I removed a lot of width from the legs. My fitting notes indicate that I narrowed the front leg 5/8” (cut the seam allowance off the outseam, basically), and reduced the back leg 1 5/8″ at the waist, blending to 1 1/4″ at the leg. Which is a lot. Nowadays I would start from a 44, and I’ve only gotten bigger & better, so I’m not sure what happened there.

Also in ‘mysterious choices from a  former life’ I extended the straps by a few inches, which was unnecessary, and then my extra strap ends were flapping around and bugging me, so I stitched them down (that line behind the rectangle slider dealie there), and now my straps are only pretending to be adjustable. The hardware is cute though!

Overall the pattern is pretty good, I think! That back seam is flat-felled, as are the inseams. My chest pocket is purely decorative since I stitched it shut, but I like it. I like the shape of the legs, too, though inevitably they bag at the knees. I’m wearing my Turias here with a Mélilot, which is a real get-along shirt pattern.

I still remember the nice woman at the fabric store helping me choose between these buttons and dark green ones, and eventually selling me on these by describing them as raisins! Which seemed appropriate for an Autumnal Food Party outfit. I hope you’re enjoying a meal, wherever you are, and having a safe, relaxing Thursday!    

Evenin’, all!  

Pattern: Pauline Alice Turia dungarees

Pattern cost: $9.00

Size: unknown; let’s say the final size was about a 44

Supplies: 2 yards corduroy in Navy, $23.00, Gather Here; $1.50, zipper, Gather Here; $7.99, buckles, Etsy

Total time: 6.75 hours

Total cost: $41.49

Pattern: Deer and Doe Mélilot

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 42

Supplies: 2 meters mystery floral, $7.73, TMoS; $7.80, buttons, Gather Here

Total time: 6.5 hours

Total cost: $15.53

Keeping Warm

As I mentioned in my last post, of the 18 new-to-me patterns I tried last year, two of them were free. The first was Peppermint Magazine wide leg pants, and the second was the Megan Nielsen Jarrah. I won the Jarrah as part of the Sew Twists and Ties festivities over on Cooking and Crafting last year, an event which is happening again right now!

It took me a while to find a heavy enough knit, but eventually I ordered this 100% cotton french terry from Joann Fabrics. I’m sure this pattern would make a cute lightweight sweatshirt, too, but I would really like to be warm please.

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Happily I’m as snug as a bug in this outfit! Both pieces are warm and easy to layer. I sewed view A of the Jarrah, the traditional sweatshirt view with sleeve and bottom bands.  

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I placed the stripes on the vertical for the sleeve bands. I wish now I had done the same for the bottom band! At the time, I was skimping on fabric. The yardage came out of the dryer so badly off-grain, it was actually trapezoidal. Because the stripes are mechanically woven, I just ignored the selvage and placed the grainline perpendicular to the stripes for cutting most of the pieces. Because of the wild skew, cutting the bottom band so the stripes ran vertically would have wasted a lot more fabric!

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Except for that, it was easy to work with. The cut edges were only a little curly and because it’s cotton I could iron with lots of heat and steam. This is a super straightforward and speedy sew, especially because of the drop shoulders and with the banded finish. The stripes make some nice angles!

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I’m showing the Jarrah sweater here with my third pair of Peppermint wide leg pants. I’ve tweaked these a little each time I’ve sewn them, and this time I tried a ¼” full stomach adjustment. I’m still getting drag lines pointing to my stomach, though!

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Plus, the pants came out big! Not way too big, but they’re for sure roomy. I’m not sure what happened this time – maybe I usually take a wider seam allowance on the outseams, or perhaps my full stomach adjustment had knock-on effects? I forgot to slightly stretch the waistband when pinning, which I usually do. Also, I swapped jeans-style pockets for patch pockets, which means no pocket stay. You can definitely see the roundness of my stomach more clearly but I like my round stomach. It’s where I keep my buttered toast. Anyway, I know this may sound like the ravings of an attic wife, but there’s something to be said for too-big pants – these are as comfortable as sweatpants. ❤

The color is hard to capture accurately – it’s called “Russet” (Kaufman 14 wale corduroy) but I grabbed these swatch images from a few different websites (fabric.com, robertkaufman.com, sistermintaka.com) and it looks a little different in each picture. In person I think it’s most like the third – more caramel than burnt orange, I guess?

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Inspired by Sew North’s carpenter-style Lander pants (also a house painter I surreptitiously stared at on the subway), I decided to add patch pockets to my Peppermint pants. I drew my own rather than using her measurements since it’s a different pattern. I got a little too cute, though, trying to duplicate the grainline of the pants perfectly on the patch pockets; it was a scant angle off the straight grain, and I should have just used the straight grain for neater pressing and stitching.

I also scrapped the hammer loop – I made one but I wasn’t wild about it, and I’m pretty sure it would have functioned as a child-towing loop, anyway. But hooray for extra pockets! I placed the back pockets by centering them on the back darts, with the top edge perpendicular to the darts. The height was just a smidge arbitrary. Okay fine, completely arbitrary!

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The patch pockets have bound openings – I made too much coordinating binding for my Tamarack but luckily it seems to go with anything!

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I’m a wee bit obsessed with the leg pocket.

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It’s holding my phone and my house keys and nothing pokes me in the stomach when I sit down! Nothin’!

My last change was simple as could be; I added 4” to the pant legs, then took a nice deep hem, so the finished length is equal to the unhemmed length of the pants as drafted. No breezes are finding my ankles. Cozy 4 life!

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As always, I can’t recommend this free pattern enough! I’m enjoying my Jarrah, too. This warm, colorful outfit will get me through January – just another 3 months of winter to dress for after that. But who’s counting? 🙂

Pattern: MN Jarrah

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 10

Supplies: 1.5 yards of cotton french terry, $15.98, Joann; thread from stash

Total time: 2 hours

Total cost: $15.98

Pattern: Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: F, with adjustments, including ¼” full stomach adjustment and 4” inches added to length

Supplies: 2.5 yards of Kaufman 14 Wale corduroy in Russet, $31.88, Gather Here; thread, button, zipper from stash

Total time: 6.25

Total cost: $31.88

In The Navy

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This is how I power dress! I want my foes to be discomfited by the almost-but-not-quite-identical shades of navy blue. Just kidding, I don’t have any foes. I think?! #nofoes

This is my show-up-to-show-out look, though. The me-mades from top to bottom, outside to inside, are: By Hand London Victoria blazer, Melilot shirt, and Ginger jeans. It’s a good bet that any time I don’t specifically say otherwise, I’m wearing Gingers! Closet Case has been covering my tuchus for years now.

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But actually we’re here to talk mainly about the Victoria blazer!

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The fabric for this blazer cost me $0.00. I was given a stack of fabric (Parisian attic fabric!!) third-hand that included completely unused wools and coordinating linings. Occasionally the woman who bought these fabrics would note which pattern she intended to use them for – as these purchases were made in the early eighties by a petite Frenchwoman, you can imagine how pertinent those suggestions were to me. Non. But it was very exciting to get my grubby paws on these beautiful fabrics/pieces of a stranger’s personal history!

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The shell is a lightweight wool (I think) and the lining is Bemberg rayon. Anyway, the wool (?) loved a press, and was a peach to sew. I had once previously made the Victoria blazer – cropped silver pleather, don’t ask – so I knew going in I was happy with the sleeve fit and collar width. I discovered with the full-length view, though, that the inseam pockets are a fun comedy bit, and not useful pockets. You know that book Things Fall Apart? A book about this blazer’s pockets would be called Things Fall Out.

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I added a facing according to a blog post that…um…I can’t find anymore! It wasn’t this one by Marilla Walker; that one looks helpful but a little more complicated. The post I lost showed a great Victoria jacket (black velvet with a satin lapel, if I remember correctly) and I did what I remember her doing – tracing off the front pattern piece, dividing it roughly in half vertically on a slight curve (the dart belongs on the facing piece) and adding seam allowances. When I first read the directions for that dart, by the way, they really did my head in, but sewing it was a snap! If you’re new to jackets as I was, I recommend it for ease and wearability! The sleeves went in beautifully, too. They must have been drafted really well because I’m usually crummy at setting in sleeves.

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I added about 1.5” total extra width to the center fold of the back lining. I pleated it for wearing ease, as intended, at the hem, but ended up using all the excess at the neck edge to match the shell neckline. Strange, hmm? A lucky break for sure though!

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The collar and lapel are separate pieces from the body of the blazer. I used every scrap of this wool! Thank goodness these pieces were rectangles I could nestle up against each other!

This is a super beginner-friendly outerwear sewing project. I want to get into the hard stuff, now – roll lines, tailoring, shoulder pads. When I was shopping I loved coats; now that I’m sewing my aesthetic is more menswear-inspired than Edwardian-military (again, don’t ask), but I think I might love sewing them.

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I would not be ashamed to shake Sue Perkin’s hand in this blazer. Speaking of which, where can an obsessed American watch the rest of Giles and Sue Live the Good Life? The first episode is freely available but I can’t find the rest of the series!

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Let me know your favorite coat patterns, and for the love of Pete where I can watch Sue Perkins milk a goat!

Pattern: By Hand London Victoria blazer

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10/14

Supplies: navy wool (?), Bemberg rayon, $0.00, vintage stash; thread from stash

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $0.00