Stripes

I’m back with two more knit tops. Can you tell I recently placed a Girl Charlee order? This is my second half, but unlike the two mitigated successes of my last post, these two makes are mitigated flops. The first because I forgot to reckon vertical stretch. And the second because I forgot again!

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I first sewed another Jarrah sweatshirt. It’s mostly fine, ‘flop’ is a strong word. I’ve made a Jarrah before and it’s a great project for beginners – relaxed fit, mostly straight lines, and no hemming if you choose the view with a banded finish, which I did. My first Jarrah was also striped, and I wished I had switched stretch direction more, so my bands here are all cut parallel to the selvage.   

I like to sew one shoulder seam and stretch the neckband to fit as I sew, then trim any extra. This time I had no extra. I was short! Vertical streeetch! *shaking fist at the sky* I could have unpicked, but I simply didn’t wanna. I pieced on a few extra inches, while most of the neckband was already attached to the shirt body, to cover the gap (it’s in front, of course).   

Which, oops, I did upside down!

The lack of vertical stretch kind of bit me on the sleeve cuffs, too. My sewing was a little crooked because I had to really pull to match the length of the cuff and sleeve end, so I serged off a little extra and then a leetle more, until the cuffs were pretty narrow, but hey, mostly straight! The shirt is a smidge pucker-y where it meets the waistband, too, but not fatally.

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Overall my simple sew took more time and effort than I anticipated. It’s not obvious in the finished shirt, but I’ll still be taking a minute off from the Jarrah. Two is enough for now!

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I mean, it’s not a smash hit, but I’ll wear it.

Plus, I had plenty of leftover fabric for a Nettie bodysuit. Plenty of fabric – but no forethought! This French terry had less horizontal stretch than my usual Robert Kaufman jersey and no vertical stretch at all. Did this factor into my planning or sewing? Did I learn a lesson from sewing the sweatshirt? It did not, and I did not. This isn’t the pattern’s fault – it calls for four-way stretch and has one of those “must stretch to here” guides that I cheerfully ignored. Girl!   

Even while cutting this Nettie I thought “These pieces look tiny!”, but I blamed that on negative ease. Also, I have several Netties that I wear regularly and they’re comfortable, and if anything a little long in the body. And I was enjoying the process of sewing it; after my unexpected problems with the Jarrah, I felt like I was really in the zone, everything was going smoothly, and my brain felt really calm. And the finished Nettie (I toot my own horn) is well-made! It looks nice!

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And it feels…WELL. Wearing this is like trying to make a queen bed with a twin fitted sheet. It’s 5 pounds of sugar in a 2 pound bag. It’s shapewear for a not-me shape. It’s NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

I can wiggle into it, actually. “It’s got a firm hold,” I thought. “But cute! Firm but cute.” And then, oh, the snapping. Again: I can get the front and back crotch straps to meet and snap, much in the same way Hannibal crossed the Alps – with effort – but unlike Hannibal, instead of waging war directly on the Roman Republic, I just feel nervous about sitting down.

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I considered my options. A) cut off the crotch straps, and hem this like a tee-shirt. Pro: easy; con: it’s tight enough that I thought, as a shirt, it might just crawl up my torso and start a new life as an infinity scarf. B) add some sort of crotch extenders that snap to both sides, like on a postpartum girdle. Pro: adds length; con: so many snaps in my back forty, practically a whole percussion section. C) wear it as-is with the crotch straps all loose and willy-nilly inside my jeans. Pro: don’t have to do anything; con: willy-nilly crotch straps.

I decided to wear this on a weekend day before making any tough calls. And I discovered that all roads lead to C), because the bodysuit unsnaps itself if I have the temerity to bend more than 15°. But it’s also irrelevant, because after running a brief errand while vacuum sealed into a striped leotard I could not peel it off fast enough! I have no intention of ever losing weight. It was my birthday a few days ago and for breakfast I had an éclair the size of a tube sock. This Nettie is a giveaway.

This flop counts as mitigated because I’m pleased with my handiwork. I wish a smaller-bodied person much joy of it! And now this post is over because I want to go home and put on something that fits. And write “check the stretch” fifty times on the blackboard.

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OOF!

Pattern: MN Jarrah

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10

Supplies: 1 yard Yellow Coral Stripes on Dusty Aqua French Terry Blend Knit Fabric, $8.64, Girl Charlee; thread from stash

Total time: 2.25 hours

Total cost: $8.64

Pattern: Closet Case Nettie

Pattern cost: N/A

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

Supplies: 1 yard Yellow Coral Stripes on Dusty Aqua French Terry Blend Knit Fabric, $8.64, Girl Charlee; thread, snaps from stash

Total time: 2.5 hours

Total cost: $8.64

Vacation Roberts

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Here’s something a bit different today – the background! Professor Boyfriend and I went on a semi-spontaneous 3-day trip to Mexico! We both have family (and in my case seasonal employment) in Europe, so whenever we’ve travelled together it’s been to visit various dads and sisters and things, or for work. It was a bit strange going somewhere just, like, ’cause, but once I got over the hump we booked a trip and a few weeks later we were on our way to Isla Holbox in the Yucatan (which I first learned about on Made by Meg, funnily enough – I’m a travel copycat!).

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I was excited to road test my new Roberts Collection jumpsuit months ahead of schedule. This jumpsuit almost wasn’t; my fabric order showed up a full meter short, but luckily it’s an ikat fabric with no wrong side and no obvious up-or-down so I was able to creatively cut a size 4 from 3 meters of 45” cotton. Before cutting, I shortened the bodice pattern pieces by 1”. This is easy on the front, but there’s a diagonal seam on the back, joining the bodice to the leg. I cut horizontally just below the ‘sleeve’ (it’s a little overcut kimono thing, so not really a sleeve, not really an armsyce), overlapped my pattern pieces by 1”, and redrew the diagonal from the center to the side seam. I then made sure the seamline matched that angle on the back leg piece.

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That diagonal back seam is the only one I flat-felled, before deciding the fabric was too soft and squashy and life was too short! Everything else is serged and top-stitched.

You might notice one of my shoes is darker than the other. It’s wet. I fell off one pier (and later, out of one hammock).

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I’d love to figure out a different way to finish the ‘sleeve’! I think even extending it slightly and hemming it before sewing the side seam would be better. This is a simple bias tape finish but it’s wrinkly and strange around the armpit. Or maybe a facing would be best? I’ve heard from some other sewists that they struggled with the Marilla Walker Roberts collection directions, but the sleeve is the only place they really fell down for me.

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I was never going to pattern-match with my shortage of fabric (I have just shreds left) so I cut the pocket facing on the cross-grain, and frankly I dig it! The pockets are a nice size, too.

I went to Gather Here for buttons and brought home snaps instead. Then I learned that different size snaps require different size snap setting tools. Oops. I thoroughly mangled one, returned the rest, and ordered snaps + tools (which Gather Here doesn’t stock, and I wanted to make sure they’d match) from GoldStarTool. They have a great selection, fast service, and they’re cheap cheap cheap. I recommend them for hardware! Though, the minimum order was 100 snaps. I needed 5. All is snaps now. Luckily I love installing them! Bam! Bam! SNAPS!

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The Roberts neckline facing was a great opportunity to try a new-to-me facing finish, which I discovered on Made by Rae. Since the facing has a concave corner it was the perfect tidy, low-bulk finish! I’ll definitely use it going forward, though you can see I didn’t quite roll my interfacing far enough to the wrong side everywhere.

I love this summer outfit! So easy and relaxed and breathable, with good sun coverage. I want to make another, possibly a solid one in linen? I mean, I always want another anything in linen. I exist in a permanent state of wanting linen.

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How’s that for comfort?!

Taking blog photos on a relaxing vacation was actually a blast! It was a chance to wander and explore for half an hour each beautiful evening, and we always concluded by watching the sunset from the beach. Holbox would be an Instagrammer’s paradise! So many murals, all the signs are hand-painted, plus vivid tropical plant life – we walked by a dozen amazing ‘backdrops’ for each one we photographed (partly because my boyfriend won’t take pictures if it means standing in front of someone’s house, or even on a bit of sidewalk that seems like it might belong to someone. He’s a very polite young man). My only regret is that I can’t compete with the super-saturated backgrounds we did find. 😉

This would have been a low-cost trip, by the way, except that all of our travel was impacted by winter weather (none of the flights we actually took were the flights we initially booked, and thanks to a connecting flight cancellation the whole trip was pushed back by a day, so we paid for shuttles/accommodations we couldn’t use. Also Air Canada is a fart in the sky and rebooking with them took 11 hours of grim effort). It was so luxurious to eat maracuyá gelato in 86°F weather with a fresh sea breeze, but I probably won’t choose to travel to or from the Northeast in February again. I already miss my summer clothes, though – it was nice to get a glimpse!

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Love from among the palms!

 

Pattern: Roberts Collection jumpsuit

Pattern cost: $8.50

Size: 4, shortened 1” above the waist

Supplies: 3 meters of dark green ikat cotton, $26.16, Etsy; $10.49, snaps, GoldStarTool (set of 100); thread from stash

Total time: 8 hours

Total cost: $45.15

Icarus Flops

A few weeks ago I posted about my plan to sew the Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul boilersuit in time for The Sewcialists‘ #sewmenswearforeveryone. I wasn’t sure what fabric exactly I wanted to sew it in (a drapey rayon? A structured denim?) but let’s flip to the last page of this mystery: I chose wrong.

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Look, this isn’t terrible. It’s a wearable garment with no major fit issues. It’s comfortable, surprisingly practical for winter (I’m basically fully dressed before the jumpsuit goes on! Fully dressed as a cat burglar but still =^owo^=), and I learned something while sewing it. It’s not a dead ringer for my inspiration, but again, not terrible.

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I was never going to be spare and distrait and dramatic, but my main mistake was in focusing on the color of the garment in this picture, rather than the fabric substrate. I bought an olive green gabardine with 3% Spandex; the color was spot-on and I thought the stretch would be an asset (you’re fitting a lot of zones with a jumpsuit), but while the rayon/poly blend has a nice weight and drape and doesn’t wrinkle, I miss the crunch of natural fiber.

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Honestly, I miss the wrinkles! For a piece drawn so literally from manual workwear, wrinkles showing its use pattern are, for me, part of the allure. I also prefer sewing and pressing natural fibers; I don’t have a ton of experience with polyester, but the boilersuit involves a lot of patch pockets and topstitching, and the springy-spongy texture was harder to keep straight and true. All this plus stretch!

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Okay, enough of fabric, on to pattern. I sewed this almost exactly as written and was happy with the fit; Ready-to-Sew includes half sizes, which is awesome. If you’re a pear like me don’t do what I did and use your waist measurement for the waist; it sits much closer to my hips. It’s fine, thanks to the straight silhouette, but barely.

The collar and collar stand pieces are asymmetrical (I think!) but I failed to notice this and cut them on the fold and nothing dire happened! My only deliberate change was to the front pants pocket.

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The pattern calls for this to be lined, but it’s all straight edges, so I figured I could fold and topstitch. I made one change to the pattern piece, below –

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Nothing to it really – I just grew on a little flap, hemmed it, and then folded and topstitched the remaining edges. The fabric requirements were accurate. The chunk I have left is a little larger than two of these patch pockets!

There’s some funny bunny stuff in the pattern. For example, the horizontal pleat is folded and topstitched from the right side, but it would be much easier to sew as a tuck (or even baste as a tuck and then topstitch).

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That wide pleat is also folded over itself when you create the right button band. It’s a bulky area. I would prefer facings there, especially if working in a heavier denim or canvas. The left button band has a facing already.

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Argh, the dirty details of my topstitching. I used snaps mainly because I recently wanted 5 snaps for a different project and the minimum order was 100. Everything is snaps now! I made a little hole when installing one, darn it, but hopefully some rice stitching there will keep fraying at bay. I also lined up the snaps with each other vertically instead of checking to make sure the actual seams lined up – double-check your laps (in both senses I guess!).

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In terms of style, I like the lowered waist, the valiant effort to straighten my cuddlesome figure vestigial darts notwithstanding, the leg shape, the horizontal pleat. I’d like wider sleeves, maybe a wider collar, faced button bands instead of a collar stand.

My cardinal sin was in not knowing myself!! I just want to wear plants and animals. I’ll hang on to this jumpsuit for a minute, but if I could snap my fingers and make it broadcloth or canvas, I would keep it for sure. This is your friendly neighborhood Obvious Reminder – construction is important, fabric choice equally so.

Critical reception of this jumpsuit ranged from (grownups) “That’s…a lot of suit”, a silent but much appreciated thumbs-up, to (children) “Amazing” and because of a game where I was meant to be captured by pirates “Perfect, you’re dressed like a servant already”.

Sadly this wasn’t my only sewing project that went a bit flumpo recently. I just sewed the Lazo Trousers by Thread Theory but no pictures because I can’t get inside them! Pure bush league eff-uppery, I sewed 10 waist 12 hip but could really use a 12 waist minimum to probably a 16 hip. I’m particularly disappointed in myself because the fabric was a gift from a friend – the ‘short end’ of lightweight wool, purchased in 1948 (!!) from a Pennsylvania mill by her great-grandmother, who worked there. I was so excited to be working with a fabric that passed from working woman to working woman over the decades, and to use this traditional menswear fabric to clad my lady legs. Even when it became clear the ship had sailed on these legs getting into those pants, I finished them; it didn’t seem to honor her work and the fabric’s journey just to toss them aside. The finished trousers are actually quite lovely if very small (though the directions for the zipper fly installation are fully bananas). I’ll pass them on at an upcoming clothing swap. Blame it on my juice!

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Pattern: Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul boilersuit

Pattern cost: $11.50

Size: 41 waist, 46 hip

Supplies: 3.5 yards of olive bengaline suiting (rayon/poly/spandex), $24.32, Joann; thread, $1.91, Michaels; snaps from stash

Total time: 12.25 hours

Total cost: $37.73