Pocket Corner

I am healed! There was a period of about two days where I was allowed out of isolation (masked & distanced) but hadn’t yet tested negative, and I basically spent them prowling around the shady parts of my neighborhood feeling like an apex predator. Now I’m once again a delicious healthy zebra. But for a shining moment, the world had to wash its hands after seeing me.

Professor Boyfriend is also home and healthy, and our new fridge has ice cream in it, and the future is now, sweetcakes! It seemed like a good time to slap on a new skirt I sewed for vacation (“vacation”) because it’s official: I’m a skirt person now.

I have three more skirts in the pure-imagination phase, but I can already picture how useful they will be. This one, the Peppermint pocket skirt, is not only useful unto itself, but it’s also unlocked the usefulness of a lot of my summer tops that had been yielding diminishing returns. That includes my 7 remaining Ogden camis, a pattern I was wearing less and less for no clear reason.

This year I hit a sort of style plateau; I was bored by a lot of what I owned but lacked a clear goal of what I’d rather be wearing. But this skirt, and skirts generally, have helped me realize I was primarily Confused By Shorts (working theory). Ogden is back in my life! This skirt is a friend to summer dressing, and casual slight tanks & tees are its natural companions.

It’s also an easy sew. It is, in essence, a glorified tube. I like it. I like the saggy saddlebag pockets (I might be making a virtue out of a necessity, but I like to emphasize my hips). I like how the pockets slump into relaxed folds but stick out enough that my hands easily land there.

I like that it’s full enough to be muy muy comfortable but narrow enough to look contemporary. It’s a tricky width to find, but a good one to hit! Pretty much the only change I’d make next time would be to experiment with wider elastic. I could also add a little length to the back panel, since it looks like the journey over my bum is hiking up the back hem a bit, but I probably won’t.

I tend not to evaluate myself with a level.

I also like that it’s free! This pattern was designed by Paper Theory, one of those super-spendy British indies, and it’s a great way to get that disposable-income look. It’s a solid pattern and the instruction booklet covers everything necessary. I just followed along like a good little listener. I sewed a straight size 16, finished the seams as directed, and even turned up the hem the recommended amount.

Oh! I did add one line of topstitching to the waistband though, because I’m a free spirit (whose elastic always twists)!  

The fabric is a linen/rayon blend in the color “Thyme”, and it’s very nearly not a color. Actually I was such a conformist when making this skirt I tried to find a dupe of the dark-olive linen used in the pattern sample (sidebar: when did we start calling olive “khaki”? Isn’t khaki the sandy-pants color that Seinfeld wore?), but this grey-green is actually pretty versatile (double sidebar: thyme is dark green! This should be called, like, wormwood! It’s more accurate, and also awesome!). I started with 2 yards of Telio Silky Noil Washed Viscose and was left with 14.5″ selvedge-to-selvedge. I’ve already made it into a…something. You’ll see. This blend wrinkles, but the wrinkles mostly fall out with wear.

The pockets, which are, broadly speaking, the whole dang point, are actually wider than the skirt panel below them. That’s why they wing out so reliably. They’re also understitched, though in my floppy substrate that doesn’t prevent the inside from making itself known…but discreetly.

I could try using a stiffer coordinating fabric for the pocket interior to emphasize the shape if I make another flow-y version. Might be fun!

Oh and! Because all the pieces are vertically symmetrical, I was able to open the digital file, split the biggest pieces, and then stack them in pairs, which meant printing this pattern only took a lithe and lovely 13 pieces of paper!   

If you like skirts and you’re in the mood for a straightforward, almost-mindless win with lots of wearability, I recommend this freebie. I can’t tell if I’m over-praising a simple make because I’m euphoric to be dis-infected, but hey, either the skirt or the lung capacity feels good!

By the way, I’m trying to get past my style block with a fun exercise: picturing a self-insert Mary Sue who happens to look exactly like me in fictionalized scenarios (giving an interview! Opening a witch bakery! Cutting a foe, in the Austen sense, not the “Butcher of” sense!) and looking at what she’s wearing. Is it wide stiff mid-thigh shorts? No? What, never?! Then why am I? The parallel real-world experience to this is catching my reflection in an uncontrolled surface (i.e., a plate glass window) and then recording my own reaction (“OH NO”).

More summer makes to come. Thanks everyone for your comfort, commiseration, and TV recs! Stay frosty! ❤

Pattern: Peppermint pocket skirt

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 16

Supplies: 2 yards of Telio Silky Noil Washed Viscose Linen Slub Thyme, $43.70; elastic, Sewfisticated, $0.99; thread from stash

Total time: 3.5 hours

Total cost: $44.69

Wrap Crop

It would be too bombastic to say I’ve gotten into drafting, but I have had fun experimenting with pattern manipulation lately. And when looking at the Peppermint pocket skirt pattern page, I got interested in the top that model wears. My foggy memories of their styling showed the skirt paired with the Peppermint wrap top, but that’s incorrect; actually, it’s this RTW wrap top, and it’s lovely and hemp-y and the RTW website also sells womb balm, which I saw a sale banner for but did not interrogate further (how do you get the balm onto the womb though?!).

Anyway, I considered following this clever how-to for a cropped wrap top. Actually, I did follow it – I took my measurements and drew out the traditional Sarah Kirsten Morning Glory top and this variation in Illustrator, but I changed my mind before printing. I might want to make one of those someday soon, but this time around I wanted sleeves.  

So I ended up at this youTube tutorial. I’m not here to dunk on free videos, but it’s pretty incomplete. For some reason I stopped looking after that though (satisficer!) and just made guesses about the parts she elides over – most importantly, I completely winged the shape of the armscyce. I ended up back at Sarah Kirsten after that and followed her sleeve drafting tutorial, which is terrific, by the way! I still lacked faith in my armscye curve, though, probably because I had drawn it based on what looked kinda normal and no actual, you know, data.

So then I downloaded the Peppermint wrap top and grafted on their armsyce (size E) as much as possible onto my smaller piece, added a little more ease to the body of my design because I was nervous that the Peppermint one in my size was so much larger, and shortened the sleeve cap to accommodate my shortened armscye curve. I also shortened the Peppermint sleeve to 6” and straightened the edges to make the sleeve wider. Then I added seam allowances, printed my pattern, and cut out the fabric.

Phew.

If that’s a confusing sequence of events, it’s because I had no idea what was I doing. But I found this soft, not-too-light bone-colored cotton at Sewfisticated and paid $3.99 for one yard, so I figured I had learned all I could from theoreticals and might as well jump right in. Potential outcomes included:

The probable – this pattern/garment would comprehensively fail, but I’d learn something from it.

The possible – this pattern/garment would be unsuccessful, but in obvious ways that I could adjust the existing pattern to improve.

The improbable – this pattern/garment would work on the first try.

The impossible – two shirts.

Right off the bat, I spotted an error (own goal). When I had lowered the back armscye curve I failed to add that length back into the side seam, so the front was a healthy inch longer than the back, and there was already no long-ness to spare. I cut one more piece, a waistband/cuff-type piece for the back only, to make up for the missing length. This turned out to be a case of failing up. I didn’t have a clear plan for hemming the back because of the darts, and now I didn’t have to figure it out. And as a nice bonus the wrap ties cover the extra seam.

I also read the Peppermint wrap top instructions to see how they handled the side seam with a tie opening. I don’t know if it has an official name, but I’d call it like a self-finishing open seam? You press the seam allowances open, fold under the raw edges, and topstitch the folded edge through all layers. I applied this to both side seams, the sleeve seams (though not the armscye), and the shoulder seams, for practice and because I thought it was pretty!

I used self bias binding on the neck edge.

The ties are long rectangles folded in half hot-dog-style, with the seam rolled to the center of one side. Once again I didn’t have a clear plan to attach these, so I just kind of jammed them under a fold at the front piece edges to contain all the raw edges.

At a first try-on the wrap ties wouldn’t stay on the body of the shirt. They slipped under the back hem and the shirt stuck out instead. “Oh well what the hell” sang McWatt; and I threw on some rouleau loops.

You can tell at this point I expected the probable outcome, educational failure.

Actually, looking at these photos, I was surprised to see this top looks alright! It’s not the easy breezy womb balmy vision I saw above, but it’s fine. Wearable, even. But ultimately it’s not really to my taste. Having learned that, it’s not important to work this out, but it also has one mysterious issue: no matter how tightly I pull on the wrap ties, I can’t convince the fronts to tack to my body. Theories??

I’m trying to get comfortable with the higher rate of missteps that goes with a higher rate of experimentation. Growing pains, I hope!

Pattern: NA

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 37.75” bust, 32” waist

Supplies: 1 yard of bone cotton,$3.99, Sewfisticated; thread, $2.49, Sewfisticated

Total time: 5.25 hours

Total cost: $6.48

Navy Linen

I have a nice straightforward W to share today, and you know I like it ‘cause it’s got me standing like Jim Rash doing Angelina Jolie receiving an Oscar. Back in high school I wore a lot of skirts; I added dresses in college; then I phased out both and started living in pants, but I don’t know, I’ve been feeling skirts lately. Shade in the summer, warmth in the winter!

This particular skirt is an imitation of – um, an homage to the Tessuti Madden skirt. It’s a perfectly nice pleated skirt pattern with one side seam and an off-center button closure and I copied it, I copied it right up. Basically, as far as I can tell, it’s two rectangles, a pocket, and a waistband. I used the waistband piece of M8248, helpfully covered by a belt in the envelope photo, thanks, but it’s a curved waistband with front and back pieces that I merged into one long piece. Then I split the waistband 2.5” from one end, and moved that bit to the other end. Finally, I drew on additional straight extensions for the button over/underlap. Et voilà! “Drafting”!

The skirt panels required a little simple addition. I decided to draw them in Illustrator, and then look at the Properties panel and transfer those dimensions to fabric. I started with two pieces each 36” long and 15.75” inches wide, which is half of my waist measurement. Same as the waistband, I cut off a 2.5” section of one panel (now the front) and moved it to the other panel (now the back). I decided on the finished width of the pleats – .75” – and for each pleat (8 in front, 10 in back), added another 1.5” in width. Since a pleat viewed on edge is basically a squashed letter “Z”, that measurement is double the top layer – it adds the zig back/zag forward fabric, for fullness that doesn’t change the finished waist measurement.

I also added 1.25” in width to each panel for button placket, and then 5/8” seam allowances using the recently-discovered-by-me Offset Path function – I looovvveee iiittt – and I had my final pattern pieces! Still rectangles, but BIGGER rectangles. The front was 29.5” wide x 37.25” long, and the back was 36.875” wide x 37.25” long.    

 I messed up a bit adding the grown-on button plackets; I thought of them as overlapping, which they are, but of course they also add one placket’s-width to the skirt. I made the same error of logic when adding to the waistband, so the pieces fit together, but the finished skirt was 1.25” too loose. With a bulky sweater it was just comfortably loose, but in a summer top – and let’s face it, linen skirts and summer tops go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong – it was dipping at the center back. Rather than minutely increasing the pleats or resewing one of the plackets, I decided to retcon in some back waist elastic. I unpicked two sections of waistband and fed a scrap of some 1.5” elastic through one opening and out the other, snugging it up and then securing it with two short vertical lines at the side seam + what would have been a side seam.

The skirt is definitely not tight but it sits correctly now, and is still really comfortable, even on stonking hot days.

I opted for a slash pocket instead of an inseam pocket in the one side seam because I like them better, and because it’s much easier to sew French seams that way. The fabric is 100% linen from Sewfisticated; it was lovely to sew and finish.

It’s also quite light, so I gave it a nice deep double-fold hem, added tricot interfacing to the button plackets, and lined the waistband in cotton for stability. I use this interfacing roll in white, and while nobody’s ever tried to sponsor me, if they want to, they can, and I promise I’ll rename my apartment Fusible Tricot Interfacing Rolls Stadium.

The buttons are my laser-cut jaguar buttons. I rinsed this batch before varnishing and they came out a little blonder as a result.

I started with two and a quarter yards of the linen and I had to enough left over to try out something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. It’s a tank based on the Peppermint button-front dress, a free pattern. It’s actually just the size E facings from that pattern extended, with the button placket extension added to the new fronts.

I couldn’t fit the back on the fold but I was able to cut it in two halves with the center seam on the selvedge, which is my favorite fix for an unplanned straight seam! Pre-finished, baby!

I was originally confused by steps 12 and 14 (*NOTE: these are sequential steps in the directions, since step 13 appears before step 12. I don’t make the rules), where the facing edges are attached to the plackets, but once it clicked it was pretty terrific. Low-bulk, super neat, and well worth applying to other projects. Even if you never make this pattern, it’s probably worth reading the directions for that step.

This tank also got laser-cut buttons and functional buttonholes, though this unshaped version can go off and on without touching the buttons. It’s not my all-time favorite tank but it was a really fun sew!

I’ve been having kind of a dud-ly sewing season lately, so it’s nice to add a couple things to my summer wardrobe without any mixed feelings or regrets. This just confirms my suspicion that linen makes everything better.

What a breezy and often expensive non-surprise!

Pattern: based on Tessuti Madden skirt

Pattern cost: NA

Size: fits waist measurement 31.5” – 32.5”

Supplies: 2.25 yards of navy linen, Sewfisticated, $22.48; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 6.75 hours

Total cost: $22.48

 –

Pattern: Peppermint button-front dress

Pattern cost: NA

Size: E, facings as a tank

Supplies: leftover linen; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 4.75 hours

Total cost: $0.00

Embroidered Top

I’m going to need a new spreadsheet category, I think. Right now I separate items into keep/giveaway/gift, and ‘giveaway’, let’s be real, is polite for ‘flop’. However, this year I’ve occasionally sewed stuff not so much as gifts (unless I’m grandiosely making gifts FOR THE UNIVERSE (I am not)) or even as muslins, but just ’cause. Usually it’s scrapbusting or to make something unwearable into something wearable, but not by me. And this top fits into that new trial category.

I got this shift from a clothing swap.

It had made the rounds and been owned by a bunch of different swap participants, and was bought secondhand by the originator in the first place. It had clearly been used enough to wear out this underarm, but it was also fairly casually sewn in the first place.

The seams were sewn once and left unfinished (not even pinked). At some point what I assume was an attached belt was snipped off.

It was still darn cute, but the fabric was stained in a couple places and wearing out in others, and nobody wanted it in its current iteration, so I brought it home to remake.

I haven’t done of a lot of refashioning, but I wanted to try the elasticized square-neck raglan thing again, this time with a woven instead of a knit. It seemed like a good fit because there wasn’t actually a ton of fabric in this garment, and using that neckline meant I could shorten all the pattern pieces by a good 4 or 5 inches from the top. I began by unpicking the whole shift (it didn’t take long) and pressing the seam allowances flat.

I chose the True Bias Roscoe pattern as my base; it fit almost perfectly on the resulting narrow panels. I sew a size 0, by the way, which I continue to find staggering.

I knew I couldn’t make the new top full length, but that was okay. I folded over the top of my Roscoe pattern pieces at the height of the front sleeve notch, perpendicular to the grainline, and played around with placement until I found one that allowed me to save two of the embroidery motifs without sacrificing too much finished shirt length or smacking the flowers directly over my committee members. The finished side seams are 12” long. I saved the scraps with leftover embroidery for some murky and mysterious future.

I definitely didn’t have enough fabric for Roscoe’s usual sleeves, so I copied the sleeve hem curve of the original garment. I traced the armscye curve, again stopping at the height of the front notch, then marked straight across, and finally added 1.5” to the top for a double-fold elastic casing over the shoulder. I didn’t have space to add any fullness to this piece, but the Roscoe sleeve is pretty full already. Partly because of fabric limitations and partly to copy the original garment, my finished sleeve seam is only 1.25” long.

I cut the elastic casings for the front and back of the shirt separately. This was a bit silly. I could have cut them continuously, but I was operating on auto. It requires a smidge more math to make the height of an added casing match that of a sewn-on casing, but nothing too complicated.

Sewing the shirt was a snap. I used French seams on the shoulders and sides. The casings are 5/8” wide, for ½” elastic. I treated this fabric like a cotton and it probably is!

I wasn’t sure how long my finished elastic would be, so I basted together the underarms, stopping just short of the casings, and then inserted elastic cut a little long. I attached one end of each piece firmly and then stood in front of a mirror and pulled on the loose end of all 4 elastic pieces until I was happy with the fit. I was able to reach the front chest piece effortlessly, and I made sure to leave the front end of the shoulder elastics loose for adjustment, but I needed Professor Boyfriend’s help with the back. Ultimately, though, it turned out I liked it at the same length as the front. The final body pieces are 11” long, and the sleeve casing pieces are 12” long.

I had planned to sew the underarm seams with French seams as well, but the layers of elastic at the neck made that too bulky. The seam is pretty dimensional even with the finishing I eventually landed on, which is just bias binding with a scrap of cotton.

You can kinda see it from the outside so it’s nice that it looks nice!

I really enjoyed myself with this project. The final shirt is pretty cute. The inside is tidy. I know that doesn’t impact the function, but dang it, I like it. The sleeves want to slide off my shoulders sometimes, but it fundamentally works, and if I ever wanted to make another I could correct that by cutting an inch or so above the front notch instead of at it (which would bring the top edges of the sleeves closer to the center of the wearer’s body).

I popped this right back in the swap box, but gladly. I don’t have a new passion for refashioning, but I liked getting this back into circulation! Hopefully someone will enjoy wearing this new version of an old garment.

Happy about-to-be summer!

Pattern: True Bias Roscoe (kinda)

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 0 (kinda)

Supplies: embroidered shift; thread, elastic from stash

Total time: 1.5 hours

Total cost: $0.00

White Olya

This is my second Olya, in my second batch of Stylemaker Fabrics fabric. I’m always chasing a big white shirt ideal so I resisted the beautiful colors on offer and ordered this crinkle cotton in white. I thought it would be a safe bet. To my surprise, I prefer the softer, thinner yellow I used last time – both the color and the final shirt.

That said, there’s nothing actually wrong with this cotton and it sewed like a dream. I was just anticipating something both fussier and finer – more see-through, and with some unwanted-but-expected stretch from the crinkles. Actually this has the dry, stable, semi-crisp hand of a paper towel. I ordered 2 yards as directed and used every inch of length, leaving just some funny-shaped large scraps that will make terrific interfacing for a future project.

I shortened the sleeves of this Olya by 1”.

I also cut the pocket pieces as one piece each, with the fold at the bottom of the pocket bag. Those were my only adjustments this time, though commenter M-C suggested a forward shoulder adjustment, which I’m sure I’d benefit from. Unfortunately, given the odd shape of these pattern pieces, I found that adjustment intellectually intriguing but practically, beyond me. I’d like to try it on a more traditional shoulder seam first!

The finished shirt is okay. I’m having trouble styling it at the moment – surprising for such a basic piece – but I think it’s because it’s such a summer fabric. I’m hoping it will come into its own with shorts. I really want to like it, mainly because I like the buttons. Which I made!! With a laser!!!

Our local public high school has a fabrication space open to city residents in the evenings. It’s called Fabville and it’s terrific in every way! It’s actually one of the many available in our area – Somerville (soon Allston) also boasts the dazzlingly complete Artisan’s Asylum, and the Cambridge Public Library hosts The Hive, but Fabville is free, friendly, nearby, and open after my workday, so it’s obviously my favorite. I strongly recommend checking out a space like this if your town has one, or several (how many is probably a function of proximity to MIT, ha).

I wasn’t really sure how to take advantage of this kind of tech until I realized I could make buttons. I got a piece of maple 1/8” thick by 1.5” wide by 24” long from Rockler Woodworking and Hardware (another high recommend, if you have one handy). So far I’ve used it to cut 5 dozen buttons and I have about 1/3 of the piece left. Fabville has a two laser cutters; I used the Epilog Mini 24, which is smaller but more precise. I set up my files in Illustrator, though they were ultimately opened in Inkscape and converted to PDFs.

This isn’t a tutorial (I’m assuming design software competency), but here’s some spec-y stuff if you have access to a machine and are interested:

I work with vectors so I can resize elements without changing the stroke width. Please note, though, the printer calls the cutting/engraving lines “vector” and the etching lines “raster”, regardless of the file type. The cut lines should be strokes, ideally .001 mm but allowably as thick as .004 mm. The etched areas are fills (without strokes!). For the densest, darkest etching, set the fill to black (#000000) with a 0% tint. For shallower, lighter etching, change the percentage of the tint of black, but don’t touch the opacity. You can use both vector and raster cuts in one file, or just one kind; either is fine. All cutting and engraving is perfectly vertical, so there’s no beveled cuts, but it’s beautifully precise.

And a final tip: double-check your measurements in the real world. My first set of buttons was very, very small! They’re functional, they’re adorable, but getting a needle through those wee holes was dicey. After cutting this first batch I belatedly took some measurements and observed that the holes within the button should have a diameter of 1/16”, and be placed anywhere from 1/16” to ¼” apart (that second number is my aesthetic opinion).

Luckily, once attached, these hand buttons actually go through the buttonholes pretty well. I thought the bitty fingers might get snagged, but if I push them through with the heel of the palm first there’s no trouble. My buttonholes are sized for a 3/8” button – just over the width of the hand, not the length.

They’re subtle but I love them anyway! I tried resizing and cutting another batch of hand buttons to have functional holes, but it turns out their tininess is also their strength; when these hands are sized up, the fingers break off. Sad face. I’ve been experimenting with other button designs (beyond symbols carved into a circle, though those are cool too), and so far my best one is below!

Jaguars can represent protection, transformation, and power, plus those big kitties are stylin’ as hell. I don’t know if there will be any interest in this, but: if you donate to a pro-choice advocacy group, an abortion fund, or a pro-choice care provider like Planned Parenthood, contact me and I’ll send you four laser-cut jaguar buttons. If you make that donation recurring, I’ll send you eight. The jaguars are maple, 0.75″ wide x 0.6″ tall x 1/8” thick.

I’m also interested in learning about new-to-me ways to protect and defend reproductive freedom (or more impactful places to give money or time), so please recommend those if you’ve got them!

See you soon, stay mad!

Pattern: Paper Theory Olya

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 14; shortened sleeve 1″

Supplies: 2 yards of Washed Crinkle Cotton Solid White, Stylemaker Fabrics, $29.00; thread, Michael’s; 1.5″w x 24″l by 1/8″ thick maple, Rockler Woodworking, $10.58

Total time: 6.5 hours

Total cost: $39.58

Ogden Tank

Once again I am here to share with you an okay piece of sewing. Today’s solidly acceptable offering is the True Bias Odgen cami, but I’ve made some changes that round this grade-A pattern down to a B+.

I’ve sewn 8 regular Ogden camis in various states of cropped-ness from full length to very brief. They’re all keepers. I’ve replaced the straps and mended the neckline points on a couple where they wore out, because I didn’t want to lose them from my summer rotation. It’s a simple and extremely wearable pattern that I like it a lot.

That said, sometimes I want to cover my shoulders (variety is the spice of shoulders!) and since I really liked the loose body and depth of the v-necks in this pattern I hoped I could use it as a tank base. A really well-fitting shell is my Holy Grail of basic patterns. This isn’t it. It’s more of a Prosaic Grail. It’s wearable, it’s comfortable, it’s the exact definition of “fine”.

But if you’re filled with a burning and/or yearning for an okay tank of your own, read on!

My first step was to put on one of my existing Ogdens and ask Professor Boyfriend to place a pin in the strap where it sat on the high point of my shoulder. My ideal finished Ogden strap length is 6.5”, and that divided surprisingly neatly into 2.75” in the front and 3.75” in the back. I also put a ruler on my shoulder (long-ways from neck to arm, or proximal-to-distal if you’re feeling anatomical) and looked at it in the mirror to estimate the angle of my shoulder slope.

I then retraced the pattern, but I didn’t cut it out. The strap attachment point is marked on the pattern. On the front piece, starting from that point, I drew a vertical line parallel to the center front that was 2.75” long. On the back that line was 3.75”.

The original finished strap is a scanty ½” wide, so I marked ½” centered on that line. I wanted my straps to be thicker; I added ¼” to the outer edge and 1.5” to the inner edge (arbitrary or carefully judged? You decide!).

I also added a thin acute triangle to the top of each strap based on my shoulder slope estimation, then ½” seam allowance. Finally, I blended the neckline and armscye curves into the new straps.

I also cut new facing pattern pieces with the updated neckline, but I didn’t modify anything else about them. I’m content with the length of the internal boob curtain (I’ve read reports of it cutting across some breasts oddly, but it works for me). Now I just had to sew the thing!

I staystitched the necklines and then used the burrito method to finish the neck and arms. Historically I’ve struggled with that technique, but this lightweight swiss dot was nice and thin so it was unusually easy.

 I understitched the neckline but the armscye edges seemed to behave themselves without it, so I skipped it (I was also running out of black thread, which may have weighed in the decision).

The tank was almost done after that – French seam the side seams, hem the outer and facing, bada-boom. Construction is all good. Fit? Eh. It looks like I could stand to pinch a dart out of the armscyce, but darts do not feature in my fantasy tank pattern (as a member of the IBTC I feel strongly that if I don’t wanna I shouldn’t hafta). The “v”s also look a little “u”-ish to my eyes, as a consequence of adjusting those curves, I guess. The straps obviously can’t sit any further out though.  

I really can’t get too heated either way. It’s fine! It’s a comfortable shirt and it’s breezy and it’s fine. It’s abundantly, undeniably fine. It might be cuter knotted at the waist. I am falling asleep trying to care. I’ve got a smallish piece of this fabric left, and it might be enough for the outer pieces of another proper Ogden cami, which I’m sure would get used because this imperfect version is already highly wearable. I’d have to buy more black thread, though. Quelle horreur!

Separately, I got this little hat from the Buy Nothing and I think I like it. Let me be a you person, hats!

Soon my fall sewing will begin. O_O Now that I can get excited about.

Pattern: True Bias Odgen cami, with changes

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 6 bust, 8 waist and hips

Supplies: 1.5 yards black swiss dot cotton, Sewfisticated, $7.49; thread from stash

Total time: 2.75 hours

Total cost: $7.49

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

One Day My Prints Will Come

Today, another pattern from the way-back-when. This particular moment in time is the MN Cascade skirt and it feels like a mermaid slammed into a princess going full speed with no airbags. Once a year around now, I find it in the back of my closet. On super-hot days the double gauze is irresistible. Well, it hot, so here we go.

Basically, the Cascade is a more-than-a-circle skirt. It fastens with a simple overlap and it’s made of two fronts, a back, and a waistband. A go-getter with a drawing compass could whip one up without too much trouble but I made this early in my sewing career (‘career’) before I figured out 1) most skirt patterns are just a litttttle reheated-feeling and 2) what I like to wear.

However, this skirt keeps escaping my culls. Ordinarily it would be way too swishy-pretty for me, but it’s so sort of unabashed that it shot the moon and I like it again. It makes me laugh to dress up like I’m going to comb my hair with a dinglehopper and drown sailors and then actually just get a sandwich instead.

We’re going back, way back – pre-spreadsheet, so pre-2017 – but I can almost guarantee that I bought less fabric than this pattern called for and ignored the grainlines when cutting. 3 7/8 yards of 45”-wide fabric, and that fabric is Nani Iro? Yeah, did not happen. At a guess, I bodged this any-which-way out of 3 yards, if that. The nondirectional print doesn’t give any clues but I know myself pretty well (and I continue to love this print! Dare I call it…TIMELESS?!).

It’s also safe to say I cut a size M. Right now my waist falls between and M and an L and this still fits comfortably, but I think an L would have been a better investment. In a word: overlap. A longer waistband means more overlap, which means more coverage. My highs are a little too high. Though that doesn’t explain why my lows are so low!

That high-low angle is X-TREME. It’s X-Box 306. It’s arguably Xanadu. The fabric is light, too. Usually beautifully so, but it can get dicey. On the morning we took these pictures, the air was dead, but I popped a safety pin at the bottom of the overlap just in case. Later that afternoon it was a little breezier and despite the pin, unless I held the skirt edges like I was processing royally, any wind could boost my rating to PG-13. But that’s why it’s also so suitable for our recent stretch of 95°+ days (35° to you Celsius fans)! You gotta do what you gotta do.

This skirt features my first (and at time of filming, only) hand-rolled hem! It’s actually a huge amount of fun to sew but I did not do a great job despite the double-layered fabric (it’s a bit tuftier than intended). I’d probably go with a bias binding for a fun pop if I were sewing this today, but this hem treatment doesn’t inhibit drape or flow at all, which is nice! I used two sets of dress bars for an invisible closure.

There was a time in my life where I squeezed a Tate top out of any semi-realistic scraps, which is what I’m wearing here. This free Workroom Social pattern appears to have vanished from the internet! I’ve fallen out of love with it but I still have a PDF copy if anybody wants one.

My version has such features as “a baby-hemmed hem that likes to flip up”, “extra seamlines born of necessity rather than style”, and “pretend buttons”. The pretend button placket is just the selvedges overlapped without additional finishing; the neck and armholes are bias-bound. It’s fun to be swaddled in Nani Iro from neck to ankle (hey, if you’re looking from the back, it’s ankle! It counts!) but I’m not wowed by this shirt. The cut-in shoulders are no longer my go-to silhouette, and I’m usually too lazy to convert my convertible bras, so it doesn’t get much wear.

On the other hand, in this summer of many parties, including 18 months worth of make-up parties (is anyone else feeling like Slurms McKenzie? If Slurms and all his buddies were fully vaccinated, TBC), this skirt  has been a friend indeed. I don’t care if high-low hems are so 2011-2012. Lots of cool stuff is from around then. Call Me Maybe. Cotton candy grapes. Rivers of London.

Anyway, wear whatever you want! I have declared it meet, and I get to do declarations now, because in this skirt I am clearly a princess. Long live me?

Pattern: MN Cascade skirt

Pattern cost: ?

Size: M?

Supplies: ? Definitely Nani Iro double-gauze

Total time: Lost forever

Total cost: Never to be known

Last Resort

I really like black outfits in the summer even if they effectively make me look glow-in-the-dark, but this one kind of crossed the line from “casual” to “deadly-widow-on-a-cruise”. To be fair once I realized that I leaned into the styling; since I’m only going to wear this outfit this once, I may as well wear it as hard as I can. This is my wearable muslin for M7936.  

Sometimes a muslin gets promoted to the big leagues. This isn’t one of those times. I haven’t really been tempted by short rompers lately; I feel simultaneously overdressed and underdressed, and this summer has been so relatively cold in New England that I’ve gotten to enjoy long pants most days anyway. But I wanted to sew through this pattern once before deciding whether or not I would make myself a full-length version. Honestly, I’m still not sure.  

The drafting was simple but good – everything lined up, there’s generous hem allowances, and the pockets are a good height and size. I had to sew my nemesis, an invisible zipper, but even that went okay thanks to the expert guidance of Kenneth D. King! However, it seems my new nemesis is facing a V-neck with an invisible zipper at the point. My fabric was a slightly grow-y, slightly shifty rayon/linen blend, and I didn’t make it perfectly symmetrical. I hand-stitched the edge of the facing in place to minimize the mismatch.

It’s obviously not an invisible finish, but if a line is going to be slightly wobbly anyway, I think hand-sewing visually justifies it. I wonder if a closed-end dress zipper in the side seam would make a good replacement for the center zipper, possibly if the back neck had a “V” neckline as well for extra hip-in, hip-out room? I’m not fond of placing the thing I’m most likely to mess up front and center, but a back zip can be a hassle too.

Fit-wise there’s not a ton to say – the intended fit is free through the waist and loose in the hips and shoulders. I sewed a straight size M (the pattern alpha-sized, by the way). It’s comfortable but the inseam pockets gape a bit, so grading to an L probably would have been more suitable. It passes my squat test for thick thighs as-is, though.

Unfortunately it’s a little uncomfortable to raise my arms above my head. It’s a cut-on-sleeve issue, not a body-length issue. Lifting my arm moves the whole garment, inevitably, but the sleeve digs into my arm before I run out of crotch space; if it were a set-in sleeve I would have a sense of how to adjust (all due to ikat bag’s generous post, an evergreen from 2014) but I’m not sure what to do about it here. Adjust the shoulder slope, possibly?

I sewed and finished the pattern according to the directions before adding my own twist, the little strappy hardware bits. It’s just four rectangles folded like double-fold bias tape and topstitched shut, plus four D-rings. The strap width was determined by the D-rings I had sitting around, 1 ½”.

These straps each started life much, much longer. I pinned them to the finished garment before trimming. This was easiest, but it wasn’t always easy. I was home alone for this sewing project and pinning straps above my own booty with the help of exactly 1 mirror was a bit fussy. They were unsurprisingly unsymmetrical, so I took measurements on the flat garment and tried to split the difference, only to somehow end up sewing the back straps symmetrical to each other but a good 4” lower than the front straps. Several tries later I ended up with this arrangement.

I was a little worried that the cinching would pull back the fabric around the invisible zipper and reveal the coils, but it’s all good. These look a bit useless when fully loose and a bit tortured cinched to the max; this sort of half-waist seems to be the sweet spot. You can get a similar(ish) effect with something like this elastic waist, with the exception that I have a flat area (panel in that link) between the strap ends on both the front and back.   

I’m not super excited about this romper, alas. Why’d I even bother poisoning the Colonel, y’know? The one thing I unabashedly like is the depth of the V. I really wanted to recreate a particular denim jumpsuit I have pinned, but now I dunno. I was pretty grateful to pop this off in favor of jean shorts and a tank; I just feel more like me in that outfit. On the other hand, denim makes everything better.

It did inspire me to go through my wardrobe and pull out a few other things I don’t feel excited about. My clothing swap pile is growing. Got to get that stuff out before the if/when of another lockdown…

On that cheery note, arrivederci! If Scotland Yard comes sniffing around, tell them it was natural causes.

Pattern: M7936

Pattern cost: $5.49

Size: M

Supplies: 2 yards of black linen/rayon, $11.98, Sewfisticated; 22″ invisible zipper, Gather Here + 1 1/2″ D rings, Winmill Fabrics, $4.79

Total time: 7 hours

Total cost: $22.26

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