Swish swish

My machine is officially tuned up, and among other maintenance, apparently the feed dogs were way too low! But we’re reunited and it feeds so good (soz not soz). Anyway, it’s feeling and sounding great – I’m pretty sure I could Tokyo Drift in it.

My repair squeaked under the wire for the MA/RI travel restrictions. I hope our spike becomes a divot soon; I have friends and family across the border, and somehow it’s worse knowing they’re close but unavailable. Not that having family abroad and off-limits has been a comfort, exactly, but it’s a smaller contrast from the norm.

Anyway, my planned projects are stacking up on my cutting table a.k.a. my sewing table a.k.a. my eating table, but in the meantime here’s a deep deep cut!

This 2016 (?) make is the bottom half of Vogue 9075, an awfully-cute jumpsuit that I muslined the top of exactly once before abandoning it forever. This makes me laugh, now, because looking back the legs are just two big rectangles, plus notches for pleats, and crotch curves! It certainly wasn’t necessary to spend folding money on just the legs! But at the time, it gave me confidence to try something new, and I guess that was worth the sale price I almost certainly paid for it. Also, whatta crotch curve. I’m a fan.

It’s comfortable without being at all droopy, hitting just above the high-tide mark for chub rub, and I’ve borrowed it for other big short wide pants so I guess I did get my money’s worth. Plus it’s actively encouraging to look back at a pattern that felt like a challenge several years ago and discover it’s wonderfully simple (like an egg!). This is also the pattern that introduced me to what I think of as a Vogue-specific inseam pocket – the opening starts several inches down, but it actually extends along the side seam from the waist, and it’s anchored in the waistband. I used white cotton to minimize show-through and because it was handy.

I topstitched the seam above the pocket opening, as well as stitching down the pleats, which was The Recommended Thing To Do when all the pear-shaped ladies hopped out of the fruit bowl and into this pattern several years ago. I’m not sure it made much difference, since I used drape-y rayon, but it might save on ironing? Excuse me capitalistic patriarchal beauty industry but REAL culottes have wrinkles! Okay fine, I skipped ironing. This isn’t the first time it’s come up, but FOLKS, sometimes summertime is WARMER THAN I LIKE.

Here’s a glimpse of those stitched-down pleats, as well as my ‘invisible’ zipper and my au natural wrinkles. I’m wearing this with one of my earliest CC Netties, and even though I think that new dress is just a wrap hack of that one Vogue dress (only me? PROVOCATIVE CONTENT), mama can draft a back scoop. It’s casually elegant, IMO, and my bra never shows. Witchcraft.

I still get wrinkles like this at my shoulder seams, unfortunately. I’m pretty sure it’s more to do with my relative lack of experience/how I handle the fabric, since I don’t see this on other people’s makes.

I’m 80% sure I picked up the rayon for the culottes at Michael Levine in L.A. – it was definitely the L.A. fashion district – and I think it ran me about $30? I might not choose it today, but it fits neatly into my summer wardrobe of blues and greens and whites. I don’t really like light colors on my bottom half too much, partly for aesthetic reasons (grounding colors on the part of me closest to the ground – it just makes sense!) and partly for practical ones. I’m working at the summer program at my school (everybody masked all the time; the kids are champs and they’re doing amazingly well, but if you have a student returning to in-person school in the fall I recommend a low-stakes practice day wearing their mask at home, because the kids who practiced seem to find it easier and more comfortable). Anyway, all that to say that my average day involves building forts out of sappy pine branches, digging in the garden, painting, bedazzling, running through sprinklers, kicking a muddy soccer ball, disinfecting disinfecting disinfecting, and hanging out in a field, so it helps if my bottoms hide stains.

But I can promise this pattern is up to all that, including our multiple high-nineties days.

All the breeze can fit in the legs…

Without sacrificing ideal ground-sitability!

And just between you and me, the woven scrap I used for the crotch finish of this Nettie, is this rayon! SECRET SIT-SPACE SYNERGY!

Stay well, fight the power, see you soon!

Pattern: Vogue 9075

Pattern cost: $6? $8? In that family?

Size: most likely 16 or 18 (the past is another country)

Supplies: 3 yards printed rayon, probably around $30

Total time: unknown

Total cost: call it $40

Planning 2

I love writing lists. You should see me grocery shop; there’s footnotes.  For sewing, however, I find the process more meditative than practical – I can write “white-button down” on an index card and peacefully release it into the universe, without any pressure to actually sew a white button-down. If white button-down loves me, it will return. But right now I’m going to plan FOR REAL, because I can’t sew, because my sewing machine is in the hands of another!!

Fine, it’s getting a long-overdue tune up. If you live in MA, RI, or CT, and you don’t have a car, I can give you the name + number of my guy. He does pick-up and delivery! I look forward to being ❤ reunited ❤ but in the meantime I’m getting my next few sewing projects in order. You could think of it as an itty-bitty capsule for an August day. Or the ramblings of a woman with no hand to hold foot to press. Whichever!

  1. First, itsa gonna be sleek. Itsa gonna be practical. Itsa gonna be a little bit boring. That’s right, it’s a – black bathing suit!

It’ll be a one-piece based on the Nettie bodysuit, but sleeveless. I think I can fudge the top using a RTW tank for reference, since I’m already really happy with the bum/leg coverage of the bottom. If I use a low front neck/mid-low back, I should be able to climb in and out without requiring crotch snaps. I also plan to use the banded finish without added elastic. This isn’t going to see a ton of vigorous water sports; I just want something classic and basic I can wear once a year for the next 5 – 10 years, which is about how often I go swimming.

I’ve already ordered and received this UV Compressive Tricot from Mood Fabrics. It’s hand-wash only, but I can commit to that once every 12 months. It’s matte, smooth, and has great recovery. Best of all, it’s got 50+ UV protection! Unfortunately it’s also sold out. Mood has other colors and some way more exciting patterns in stock – my personal favorite, these bananas.

But I chose something too basic to get tired of. Like toast.

2. Pajamas. I know, lounging was very April/May. We’re doing collective action now. But I’ve been wearing the heck out of my one pair of Grainline Lakeside PJs, and it’s about time I make another.

My existing pair is super cute, but I sewed them 5 or 6 years ago and my kiester has increased with my wisdom, so I want to size up for breeziest comfort. This is dependent on Gather Here reopening its doors to retail soon – at time of writing, not a guarantee – because I want to choose quilting cotton for these in person. Finally a chance to dip into the shelves of novelty designs! 

I hope to find something graphic and fun, like some Dear Stella and Ruby Star Society designs. Not these precisely, but I’ll know it when I see it!

I might adjust the rise of the shorts (above or below my nice tummy, that is the question). I’m fine with the itty-bitty inseam, though. It’s a perfect hot-day, get-home-from-work, cold-shower, smallest-possible-outfit outfit. (I know underwear is smaller but is it an outfit??!)

3. Swim, sleep…what else can one do in the dog days of summer? Romp, naturally. And for that I’ll need a romper.

One pattern I’m considering is the Salme Playsuit. I already own this, which is handy, because Salme the company is very much no longer with us.

I’ve loved and outgrown one of these already, but looking back at the pattern, it’s got an astonishingly shallow front crotch so I doubt it ever really fit right (I didn’t have any pants-fitting wonkery then). I’d want to adjust it before sewing again. My original version was in olive-green stretch twill and I could totally recreate it with a much better fit, but I’m not fully comfortable wearing short-shorts to work (says the echo of my mother) (she’s not a ghost, but I might be if she finds out I considered professional short-shorts), so I’m not sure this is the best investment of my time/materials. I do want something in the romper family, though – maybe with a wide cropped leg, for work + play.

I’m considering Manchester cottons. They’re light and soft and pretty darn cheap! One candidate is Leaf, another is Marmalade. A wise and wonderful friend pointed out that the word “Marmalade” might be what I find tempting, more than the color, but WWPD (What Would Paddington Do?).

I also love Kaffe Fasset shot cottons but because they have a two-tone glimmer (it’s seriously lush) I’d prefer to see those in person.  Dare I consider Sunflower, though?

There! Three looks for late summer! Depending on when my machine, a.k.a. Swamp Thing, returns to my loving arms, this plan may be delayed or altered. Depending, too, on how & when I can get fabric! Pretty much the only thing that’s guaranteed is the swimsuit, which I could sew on my serger if I absolutely had to (but I’m hoping not to have to). If and when any of this goes from theoretical to theothreadical (NOPE), you’ll see the results here!

Do you have any fun summer plans, on or off your sewing table? 🙂

Black Dungarees

I used to prefer navy blue to black, but over the past few years I’ve learned to love the clean simplicity of true black. That said, it’s no friend to the blogger, is it? But if you peer into the shadows you might just see my new dungarees!

This is view B (modified) of the Marilla Walker Roberts collection, which you really can’t beat for value. Even ignoring the dress view (as I do, because dresses are not my preferred flavor of jam), that’s three hip, comfy patterns for under ten bucks American. I wish I did like dresses, because the lines of their Isca dress are just gorgeous. And look at this sweet collection! The directions aren’t the greatest in the biz, but I love the designs. Okay, that concludes Marilla Walker aesthetic appreciation hour, back to the dungas.

I reworked this pattern something fierce. Under the influence of tiny YouTube waifs who swan around in airy shapeless jumpsuits made in under fifteen minutes with 96 cm of linen and no pattern, I drafted out the tucks and the front waist seam. Directions below:

  1. First, remove all seam allowances.
  2. Treating the pocket and front leg as one piece, draft out the tuck. I like this Megan Nielsen tutorial.
  3. Butt the bottom of the front bib against the new waist seam, making sure to match the grainlines. Trace as a single piece.
  4. Add seam allowances.

I added an additional 5/8” seam allowance to the outseams, just in case, because I decided to omit the closure. The button tab directions were confusing, and a try-on of my existing jumpsuit from the collection made me think I wouldn’t need one. (The extra seam allowance turned out to be unnecessary, as I’ll discuss later.) The original front bib pattern piece was now just a front facing, so I cut 1 on the fold instead of 2. The back and back facing needed no changes, except the added SA.

I made the straps 8” longer because I wanted to use a knot-and-loop fastening for the bib. It turns out a single knot doesn’t require an extra 8 inches, but I kind of like the excess! The loops are a little wider than the straps, and I tucked them between the front pieces and the facing and sewed over the junction several times for security.

This pair of dungarees is heavy – I don’t mean warm, I mean physically heavy. I was worried having all that weight resting on relatively thin straps would be uncomfortable, but it hasn’t been a problem. The knot stays put in the loop, too, even though they’re load-bearing. The fabric is a thick, coarse linen/cotton blend, which helps everything hold!

I wish I had done something a little differently in the back – made the back bib either wider or narrower, or criss-crossed the straps, maybe. It just looks a little unconsidered back there. The facings are already stitched down at the side seams, so I won’t be editing this pair (unpicking black thread on black fabric? No thank you).

Also, I extended the legs by 2” from the bottom, but I shouldn’t have bothered.

Super wide cuffs to the rescue!

Since removing the waist seam meant removing the slash pockets, I added two patch pockets. They’re about 7” wide by 8” deep, finished. Initially I planned on having them both on the back – I measured placement by draping the back piece over myself and patting my butt, by the way – but after sewing the first I lost interest in matching them symmetrically. In my defense, 90°F/32°C heat gives me a serious case of the good-enoughs. So instead I popped the second one on the opposite front (now with the scientific technique of patting my thigh).

Why yes, they ARE functionally invisible, thank you.

Let’s talk fit for a minute. The Roberts collection has a dropped crotch, so there’s plenty of room to move. But I just read about girth measurements in the latest Threads, and I recommend the article if you find your jumpsuit/overall/dungarees patterns need more vertical space.

Vertical, check! I overdid the horizontal, though. Back to that extra seam allowance – I didn’t need it. In fact, probably because I didn’t staystitch the curves (it was VERY hot that day) I ended up removing 1.5” from the waist at each side, so a 6” total reduction in circumference. I reduced the thighs by stages, too, until I got a fit I liked. The magic numbers seemed to be: remove 1.5” from the waist, and 1.25” from the thighs, reducing to nothing 17” up from the hem (and I trimmed the facings to match). It was a lot of pants-on, pants-off, but I’m actually pretty thrilled with the final leg shape. And it was a quick sew even with the adjusting.

And in case you’re wondering, you’d really have to work at it to peer down the side and see my underwear (fair question).

I realized after the fact that I accidentally recreated this Workshop pattern. So, no points for creativity! I’m still happy with the result, though! Time will tell if I can wear the dungarees in the fall – I expect they’ll be okay with boots and a flannel. Don’t tell summer, but I miss fall, okay?

Oh and, a new friend is moving into a local mural – how snazzy is that shirt?

You inspire me, snazzy shirt man. See you next time, buds!

Pattern: Roberts Collection dungarees

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 4, with changes, above

Supplies: 2.5 yards of black linen/cotton blend, $12.48, Sewfisticated; thread, $1.99, Sewfisticated

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $14.47

Roscoe Rescue

A while back I made a True Bias Roscoe blouse from some lovely hemp/tencel shirting. I added sleeve slits in the style of the neck slit, but eventually the “V” corners of all three burst into frayed, thread-y chaos. I unpicked the shirt and saved the fabric, and it sat in my scrap box, untouched, until recently. Then I had an epiphany. What’s the most efficient use of the fabric salvaged from a Roscoe blouse? Ta-da: another, trivially smaller Roscoe blouse!   

This is truly a beginner-friendly pattern. Straightforward to fit, cut, and sew, and I can pretty much guarantee it won’t warp out of shape, or if it does it doesn’t matter (these pieces got HANDLED). My original was sewn with French seams, which I had trimmed. I lost about ¼” per seam – 1/8” each from the raglan sleeve and front bodice on the right side, same on the left, and so on – but I wasn’t concerned about reducing the circumference by an inch or so.

It’s still not small! I’m pretty sure I started at the smallest available size, too. I should have sewn something between a 6 and an 8, based on my chest measurement, but this is probably a -1, and it’s fine.

Because of the simple shape and the loose cut, my remake differs from its parent blouse in only one obvious way – the sleeve length.

I cut above my frayed sleeve slits, following the curve at the end of the sleeve pattern. I then had 4 pieces of useable scrap fabric, each half as wide as one sleeve and about 6” tall, to cut everything I needed. The original cuffs and bindings sadly hadn’t survived unpicking. So, from scraps, that’s:

  1. Sleeve cuffs. Mine are pieced (once on the left, twice on the right), and about 3” longer than drafted. My new sleeve hem hit right about at my elbow and I needed room to bend, so the sleeves are also less gathered.
  2. A neck binding – for best results, cut on, ahem, the true bias. Mine is more like 60°.
  3. A neck facing, which I made longer and wider than the pattern called for. Longer was a necessity – I had to sew past where my first slit had frayed. Wider was a choice – I found it easier to press and sew.

I had some cotton lawn in an almost identical color on standby but I just squeaked out everything I needed!

The only sewing challenge was facing the neck with the slit already slit…ted. Slitted. Slite? I whip-stitched it shut and added a small square of interfacing over my new “cut to here” point, something I had failed to do the first time. I should have interfaced the facing piece, too, but I forgot! I sewed with the shirt side up, pivoting 1” past the original cut point, and then treated it exactly as usual.

It’s deeper and wider than the original draft but I’ve got the space! As per Shakira, you’re not going to confuse dem thangs with mountains.

The neck binding doesn’t curve as smoothly as should if it were cut at 45°, but I worked with what I had. I hand-sewed the second edge of it and of the sleeve cuffs; the gathering conceals my stitches that strayed through the outer fabric. Thanks, gathers, you’re a pal. I don’t like sewing you (I JUST DON’T) but I like wearing you just fine!

I miss the full pirate glamour of the longer sleeves but a wearable blouse is better than none. And fun fact: the sleeve cuffs are a little bulky, because the sleeves are hemmed inside. They’re actually baby-hemmed because I thought I would skip the gathering for a different silhouette, but I later changed my mind, and just gathered the hemmed ends and shoved them into cuffs. It’s a completely reversible decision. Secret baby hems! I never actually unpicked the shirt’s original baby hem either, so I got to salvage that from my first version, whoop whoop!

I recently read an old detective novel where a dame is described as cool and sweet and remote. That may be my color palette here, but I am actively sweating in all of these pictures, more than a little. The Roscoe is a great summer blouse because a) it doesn’t cling to my human Gatorade and b) it reduces my need for sunscreen, especially on hard-to-reach wing meat.

I’m so glad I was able to reuse this fabric! It’s cooperative, opaque, drapey, and soft as buttah. And I love moving fabric from my scrap pile to the closet. I *am*, however, running out of scraps to shop. I’m going to need an infusion of fresh fabric soon…

And some nice juicy planning. Although hopefully, I will be less juicy at the time.

Pattern: True Bias Roscoe blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: -1?

Supplies: Scraps of hemp/tencel shirting, thread from stash

Total time: 4.75

Total cost: $0.00

The Sultan of Swat

If you’ve ever noticed a valiant 2-inch curl or a little extra pink on my scalp, it’s because I get occasional bald spots. They always fill back in, and the number one enemy of hair regrowth is worrying about it, so mostly I ignore them. But I’m in a high-risk group for skin cancer and the last thing I need in the summer is exposed skin on the part of my body that’s closest to the sun! The solution? Hats.

I’ve dipped my toes into hats before, but I find them tricky. Whenever I put one on I feel like people are thinking of me the way I thought of this one tween who wore a fedora to school every day (“You’ll learn, kiddo”). But finally I decided: hey, for a hat that says “I’M NOT TRYING, YOU’RE TRYING”, why not wear…a baseball cap?!

I tried one on and actually liked it, except the only one that fit my head also had embroidery that said DOG DAD, which alas ’tis not I. I peeked at the construction and decided I could make one. And then I made one!!

There are free patterns available, but I paid for the Style Arc Baseball Cap because I wanted a little more hand-holding and assurance. I was also wild with curiosity to find out what was in the brim, since that notion wasn’t listed. Answer: it’s ‘heavy canvas’, which is not very specific or helpful. Oh well.

I’m happy with the pattern itself. It makes what I think is described as a ‘dad cap’, a little over-sized and vintage-feeling (though, and this is probably the first time I’ve said this, I think there were too many notches!). But the instructions are frankly a scandal. They don’t quite fill a 3” x 5” square and there are no diagrams, just a drawing of the pattern pieces and then a drawing of the finished object – essentially this, for sewing.

So I did my own thing, mainly based on the RTW cap I tried on. Most significantly, I omitted the lining, and instead sewed bias tape over the interior seams. This was the last of my favorite bias tape – it’s just a perfect weight and color. This pale khaki green coordinates with everything!

I also skipped the interfacing. The pattern recommends an interfaced outer AND lining. So my version is only about 25% as thick as recommended! Obviously, it’s a lot softer and lighter!

Because I didn’t use a lining, I needed a new solution for finishing the edge of the little igloo door in the back (I don’t know what that area is called). I tried a bias facing three times but it wasn’t happening. Eventually I drafted a 2” wide facing, which did the trick! After topstitching it I realized I had forgotten to insert the back ‘straps’ between the facing and the hat, so I put them in the sweatband instead.

I used 3 layers of heavy interfacing in the brim. It’s still not very stiff, but it’s what I had on hand, and it holds its shape pretty well. I added two lines of topstitching. Incidentally, I think I need to get my machine tuned up – my stitch length has been all over the place!

I omitted the covered button because I didn’t have one and because I don’t think the meeting point of the seams looks too shabby.

And finally, I used snaps instead of Velcro for the band because – and I cannot stress this enough – I bought a ton of snaps a year and a half ago.

It’s certainly not perfect – that back asymmetry isn’t just in the photos, and the center front seam isn’t centered on the brim. But if I consider it a wearable muslin it’s pretty cool! I’d like to make more! It’s a snappy, satisfying project with a neat result.

I have a scrap hierarchy – if I have a lightweight piece I make a tank, pocketing, or bias tape, by order of size. If it’s medium/heavyweight, I make shorts. If it’s too small to make shorts, it just sits there. But now I have this as an option. So, this is a broad plug for making a cap! It’s fun AND efficient! If you try this pattern and have any questions (totally justified by the terrible directions), please send me a note. It’s all doable.

The other scrapbuster is this Tessuti Romy top, which I made in my scrap frenzy in March. Obviously it’s the linen leftovers of my shorts! I wasn’t wearing this top at all, because it was a funny betwixt-and-between length, but I cropped the side seam to 6.5” and now I love it as a coordinating set. The hem is actually hand-sewn because I didn’t feel like hauling out my machine and it ended up being a nicely meditative summer morning activity.

I’m also warded against evil in my new Danny Brito pins, which is always handy.

Finally, this is the face I make when I’m quoting The Sandlot at Professor Boyfriend and he quotes The Goonies back at me. They’re both great flicks, but I was TALKING about BENNY THE JET.

FOR-EV-ER.

Pattern: Style Arc Baseball Cap

Pattern cost: $5.88

Size: NA

Supplies: scraps of Kaufman cotton/linen in Forage; thread, interfacing, snaps from stash

Total time: 3.5 hours

Total cost: $5.88

Pattern: Tessuti Romy top

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 95% of M with changes

Supplies: scraps of linen blend; thread from stash

Total time: 2.25 hours

Total cost: $0.00

Champagne Problems

I started typing a post immediately after finishing this Hey June Willamette shirt, and it was very vinegary. A couple days later I ‘officially’ wore the shirt and we took these pictures, and actually, it’s a totally fine shirt. A skosh of misdirected feelings, maybe! But now my hair is finally outgrowing hair puberty, the weather is warm enough to appreciate an airy shirt, and the pain point is behind me, childbirth-style (I assume giving birth is indistinguishable from sewing shifty fabric). So this review will be brought to you by Jekyll & Hyde. 🙂

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According to Mr. Hyde:

Lately I’ve considered it a patriotic duty to buy treats (iN tHis EConOmY), so I browsed the Gather Here website and snapped up the last two yards of this Cedar green Atelier Brunette fabric. It’s a viscose crêpe (does that word wear a hat when it’s not a delicious snack?) and it’s drapey and soft and textured and fast forward to now and I HATED SEWING IT SO MUCH. This fabric was a PITA. If PITAS were pitas, I could open a falafel shop. Side note, I might want something flat and doughy. ANYWAY, this fabric busted me down to beginner, and not in a fun way.

Staystitching didn’t stop it from growing like crazy. In the time it took me to fuse one facing, the second grew two inches longer. I wasn’t swinging it around my head like a lasso – I just moved it three feet from my table to my ironing board. That was the kind of magic beanstalk tomfoolery I was dealing with!

I used the wrong thread, too. I ordered cotton thread ‘to match’, but it was too dark against the fabric, so I subbed in polyester thread from my stash.

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You’re supposed to use cotton thread to sew viscose so that your stitches pop before your fabric rips, and yeah, sure enough, while unpicking I made a couple little holes. Stitch by stitch was okay, but tugging a couple inches of polyester thread at a time would sometimes pop a hole in the fabric – which took me too long to work out, and left me wondering where these tiny holes were coming from. Most were right on the seam line, so I sewed a 1/16th inch larger seam allowance around them. One is in my armpit, and I didn’t notice until taking a larger seam allowance was no longer an option, so I fused a scrap of self-fabric to the back and sewed two hand stitches for reinforcement.

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X marks the spot!

One hole was right on the fold line of the cuff, somehow, which led me to unpick the cuff, throw out the directions, draft my own cuff, and cost me hours of my precious and only life. GRRR. I cut two rectangles (17” x 5”, if memory serves? I was not in a notes mood at that moment) for my new pieces. I folded the cuff almost in thirds narrowly, a.k.a. hot-dog-style, and hand-stitched the second edge in place because they grew too much to topstitch without a great big tuck. I did one right-side-out and one inside-out, and they’re both equally pucker-y.

Also, I hemmed with self-bias. I wasn’t going to get a smooth and pretty turn where the plackets overlapped, even if I took a hammer to it, which I was very very in the mood for!

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By the way, about those plackets – they really are just overlapped and topstitched. I’m a bit disappointed; I had hoped there would be some clever construction tip. And the shoulders seams are finished in a funny way. I strongly prefer the Negroni technique (do this, then that, vintage Male Pattern Boldness!). It ends up with a gap of maybe an inch or two unsewn on the inside, which you can finish by hand if you like, as opposed to hand-basting the whole seam in place as I had to do here.

Anyway, after hours of stitching and picking and meticulous hand-sewing plus the fact that this fabric costs a queen’s ransom, I ended up with a shirt that looks like I would be required to wear it by my employer.  

And the hem is wonky!!

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These hemline wrinkles were caused by the cardinal sin of sitting down while wearing a shirt, by the way. Siiigh.

Okay, now let’s hear from Mr. Jekyll:

I might appear to work at a gas station, but it’s one luxurious gas station. The way this fabric drapes looks expensive to me. Which is good, because it was!! And like so many shirts, I can fix most of its problems by gathering the excess into a hair elastic and tucking it out of the way.

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Sidebar: Do you remember those plastic Lisa Frank slides you could use to gather your oversize tee-shirts? My go-to pairing was a Flintstones shirt with a pink dolphin buckle. I might not have known art, but I knew what I liked.

I really appreciated the different pleat suggestions in this pattern. I went for a single asymmetrical pleat, and I might use it everywhere, because I really like the result.

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The pattern came together without any issues (by which I mean, all of my plenty of issues were due to the fabric). It’s comfortable to wear and the collar rolls just right. Before taking these pictures I was pretty sure I was going to donate this shirt, but after wearing it for a day I’m actually browsing for lightweight cotton to make another. Also, it’s not the designer’s fault that I didn’t know Willamette was a place and kept spelling it Williamette. Whose fault was it? It’s a myyyssstery!

In the end I really like my breezy baby!

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This is my second pair of Perse-phony shorts, by the way; I squeezed them out of the scraps of my pants. A freebie and a luxebie, living together in harmony. I’m feeling more harmonious, too. It’s almost like…it wasn’t the shirt’s fault?!

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Jekyll & Hyde can leave, shirt can stay!

Pattern: Hey June Willamette

Pattern cost: $10.00

Size: 12

Supplies: 2 yards of Atelier Brunette viscose crepe in Cedar, Gather Here, $42.00; thread, Gather Here, $2.29

Total time: 9 hours

Total cost: $54.29

Poppy Chitoniskos

I took a meandering road to this romper. First, I spotted Faye’s adorable playsuit over on The Fair Stitch. Next, I was overcome by the punchy color of the (free!) playsuit pattern sample. Then, I would have printed and assembled the pattern, but I realized…eh, my unused M7577 pattern was traced already. So I made that, but orange-red. And that’s how my cross-bodice shortie romper was inspired by a floral playsuit. You can totally see the similarity now, right?

I’ve been calling this garment my chitoniskos, after the trendy short chitons worn by fashion-forward Greek youths in the late 400s BC. I feel like a mango Artemis.

The Greeks didn’t have elastic, though. Sorry, classical Greeks.   

And elastic is the only notion you need for this McCall’s pattern! I sewed view B, but sleeveless, with Brussels Washer Linen in Poppy. It is the most (and only-est) orange thing I own. I graded from a 10 chest to a 14 waist. The pattern asks you to bind the armscyes and long crossover opening with what I recently read is called ‘the French method’, but I used traditional bias binding instead. The other sounded too bulky for summer! I also added inseam pockets. I caught the tops of the pocket bags in the waist seam so they don’t flop around, a tip I got from a Vogue pattern and really like.  

The bodice is obviously spacious, but I don’t regret a single quarter-inch when I’m wiggling in and out of this romper. The extra ‘puff’ above the waist is essential, especially on the way out! If you’re more flexible than me (either literally, like you can jump rope with your own arms, or metaphorically, like you’re willing to pop in an invisible side zipper) you could achieve a closer fit.   

It’s possible to wear this without the belt – the elastic is doing the meaningful cinching, if cinching is what you’re after – but I like it with! By sitting an inch or two above the elastic, I think it also helps keep the wrap wrapped shut.

I sewed the elastic waist casing as essentially a big French seam; first I sewed the bodice to the pants wrong sides together with a ¼” sa, then I flipped them and sewed them right sides together with a ½” sa, leaving a small gap. Then I threaded the elastic through the casing via the gap, joined the ends, and sewed the gap shut. A nice clean casing! You can topstitch it. I couldn’t. It got weird. I unpicked it. But maybe you can!

My major change (there’s often one) was to the bottom half of the pattern. I traced the largest size in my envelope, 14, for the waist and legs, but I just could not convince myself that my legs would fit inside. The pattern pieces looked darn small; but with straight inseams and outseams that were parallel to the grainline, they also looked easy to alter. I slashed-and-spread each leg front and back piece to make them 3” wider, so a total of 6” per leg.

First, I marked the new width on what would become my pattern paper. After cutting to but not through the waistline of the original pattern piece, I taped the outer bottom corners to my marked lines and futzed the middle bits evenly apart. Then I traced, cut, labelled, and ta-da! Like many people I use bum paper, a.k.a. medical examination paper. It’s see-through for tracing; easy to mark, fold, and store; and one roll is seemingly infinite.

You’re supposed to trim off the seam allowances before adjustments like these, but I wasn’t bothered. It didn’t affect the stitch line dramatically, and this linen/rayon has some give anyway.

Once you have a crotch curve and waist size you like, you can easily redesign a basic pants or shorts pattern into any non-fitted silhouette. Box pleats, inverted box pleats, gathers, a slash-and-spread technique like this – as long as you pay attention to the grainline and finish by fitting the legs to the original waistband, swooshy shorts/pants/culottes are your oyster!

I might have been able to squeeze inside the legs as drafted, but I like these. I think it balances the blousy bodice, plus “snug” is not a summery word. ‘Gimme some of those snug shorts!’. No. “Swishy”, that’s a summer word.

And I’ve never regretted extra thigh room for Terminator-style crouching!

This was always meant to be a straightforward summer sew – it’s not going to do double-duty for work, it’s not transitional, it’s pretty much just for hanging out with friends in hot weather. Which is why I find it bitterly ironic that it looks kinda frosty cool layered under a jacket.

Why?? Why you, when I have so much trouble layering actual fall clothes?!

Until next time, hypíaine! (<– Greek theme).

Pattern: M7577

Pattern cost: $4.49

Size: 10 at bust, 14 at waist

Supplies: 3 yards of Kaufman Brussels Washer linen/rayon blend in Poppy, $25.44, fabric.com; thread, Michael’s, $1.91; elastic from stash

Total time: 8 hours

Total cost: $31.88

Fumeterre skirt

I bought the Fumeterre skirt pattern in 2017 and then proceeded to waffle about it for two years, but less than a week before I left on vacation, I decided a skirt like that should come too. It felt touch and go at the time but the finished Fumeterre landed in my suitcase with a couple days to spare!

(It’s so not relevant to the sewing but we took these pictures in the ruins of Godstow Abbey after dinner at The Trout. This walk was on my must-do-in-Oxford list after reading La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman. I loved it. Even though I had read the rest of the series as a romantic child and I read this entry as a brisk and sensible adult, I love it the best!)

Okay, back to sewing. I definitely made some choices based on time constraints. Most importantly, I couldn’t find buttons I liked and didn’t have time to check another shop, so I sewed the skirt with a blind button placket. A blind button placket is a delightful origami sewing technique that I sometimes use just for the fun of capturing all those neat folds with one line of stitching! It isn’t a view for the Fumeterre, but if you want to convert a regular placket to a blind button placket on really any pattern, I’ve made a diagram of how, below.

Hopefully it makes sense! Essentially, if you’re starting with a finished placket width of what I’ll conveniently call ‘1’, you just need to add another band of width ‘1’ plus a seam allowance of ‘1/2’. I prefer to then fudge the width of the folds, as noted in the drawing, so that the bottom layer (the buttonhole layer) ends up completely and easily concealed. If anyone has any questions please let me know. Making diagrams for instructions is trickier than I guessed, and I’d be happy to throw words at the problem, if that would help!

I used the buttons looted off an old shirt of Professor Boyfriend’s. For the visible one, I found a shiny yellow button in my sewing box, which I wouldn’t have noticed at a store but actually quite like.

The finished skirt is fine, but not great. While Dee & Doe theoretically accommodates a pear/hourglass/whatever-you-care-to-call-it shape, the angle of this skirt seems to assume a gentle slope from waist to hip. My ‘hip shelf’ (a term I just made up) is definitely more abrupt than that, plus I’ve got a tum. The waistband pieces for size 42 just about fit with a smaller seam allowance. However, the skirt panels themselves would not wrap around my hips and stomach.

Luckily it’s drafted very long, so I cut 3” from the top of the skirt. I then gathered the excess into the back waistband. The line drawing indicates long smooth gores but the back waistband has some elastic gathering anyway, and my midsection is not particularly long or smooth, so this was a body-friendly solution for me.

The silhouette was still not working, though, so I also shortened 6” from the bottom! I didn’t like the semi-sheer linen as a maxi – the transparency was much more apparent around my ankles where the fabric panels were wider. Luckily, the midi seems to work. I was thisclose to immediately donating or swapping the skirt, before it got the chop.

I can’t tell how apparent it is in these photos, but my hem here is wiggedy wack. I’ve already leveled it by time of writing this post. I had to trim as much as 1 ½” from two places and ¼“ from a couple more. I cut this skirt on the fold, so I suspect I cut two separate pairs of panels off-grain, one worse than the other.

The fabric was shifting all over the place and basically, I was just happy to get it hemmed and done the first time. Unfortunately I didn’t notice the wack-ness, let alone its wiggedy degree, until I fetched it out of my suitcase to wear (I wore it anyway, clearly!).  

I made myself unpick and redo the hem when I got home from travelling – nobody’s favorite sewing, I think. My happy ending, though, is that I ran out of bobbin thread just after finishing the new hem! Not 3” before, as is traditional! ❤ Meant to be ❤

Also, if you get the chance, I highly recommend cheesecaking around a ruined nunnery.

But be careful not to sit in rabbit poo!

I very nearly learned that the hard way…

Bye for now!

Pattern: Deer & Doe Fumeterre skirt

Pattern cost: $13.00

Size: 42, with changes, above

Supplies: 3 yards of jade green 100% linen, Sewfisticated, $21.00; elastic, $0.17, Sewfisticated; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 7.25 hours

Total cost: $34.17

Romy, oh Romy

For whatever reason I default to the same few pattern companies over and over, but that means I often miss smaller releases, like the Tessuti Romy top. But then I spotted one over on HollyDolly and it clicked! I’m sort of vaguely restricting my pattern purchases to ones that really do something different than those in my existing collection (not just wider/shorter/more gathered/more buttons, or whatever). I don’t have any tank patterns with a bust dart, and I thought the high necklines and strap placement could be transplanted onto dresses or jumpsuits.

At least that’s what I thought I thought, until I realized I just saw this neckline everywhere in street style and I’m as much of a susceptible muppet as anyone else!

Anyway I’d already made it twice by that point. Whoops. Don’t mind me, I’m just assimilating over here.

I sewed mine at size ‘95% of M’, because I forgot to check the printer settings. But I didn’t want to waste paper, plus the printer is upstairs, UPSTAIRS, PEOPLE. So printing once was enough. That’s roughly equivalent to a size S.

This top is surprisingly long (would I say…unnecessarily long?? Yes I would), but I didn’t need to grade out for my hips! What witchcraft is this? The pattern calls for 1 meter of fabric; I bought 1.25 yards of 60” wide linen, and I squeaked out a full-length and a cropped version, with an assist from some scraps of cotton voile for facing the cropped one. I think somewhere between full-length and cropped would be my sweet spot for tucking in.

I had some issues with my first draft. One was technique – I don’t have a loop-turner, so turning the straps was tricky, and mine ended up more like fettucine straps than spaghetti straps. The other was fit. I had read somewhere that Tessuti drafts for a lower bust point, but it was NOT low enough.

I feel like every time I learn something about fitting my bust I get confusion, not clarification. Normally I have to shorten above the bustline, but now these darts were floating well above the apex! Where are my boobs??? Do they wander?

Regardless of big-picture boob position, I would need to lower the dart. Also, I wanted to raise the bottom of the armscye, so my bra wouldn’t peek out. It seems to show more on one side consistently, so either my sewing or my top story is asymmetrical.

Plus back neck gape, which is pretty standard.

None of these changes are complicated, so I tried them simultaneously. I lowered the bust dart like so by ¾”. I also raised the bottom of the armscye by ¾” and made the curve shallower for more coverage. The back neck is narrowed by ¾”, so I guess that was my magic number. Finally, I had to extend the facing – I made it 1” longer so I’d have room for my lowered bust dart, plus a little extra for the hem! There wasn’t much wiggle room between the dart intake and the hem before.

I think it’s a definite improvement! It’s possible I would have avoided some woe by omitting the bust dart entirely, but dang it, I bought the pattern at least in part to try something new. And it’s much more accurate now!

Okay, so was it worth it? I bought the PDF, and it’s fine, but just fine. The lines for each size are hand-drawn with an identical weight and color. I ended up wasting a lot of paper printing out the pattern pieces for tear-away Vilene, which they recommend instead of stay-stitching. Needless to say I just stay-stitched! The directions also instruct you to interfacing the facings. Nooo, thank you. I changed the order of sewing, too, so that I could French-seam the side seams.

Basically I used the What Katie Sews order of operations for the Ogden cami, with the main difference being that I sewed and understitched the straight necklines first, and then sewed and understitched the armscye curves, instead of one continuous line of stitching per front or back. As long as you don’t get the pieces twisted, this is a much easier way to construct the top!

While it seems like this simple shape would be a good pattern for a beginner, I’d hesitate to recommend it. It’s not really a ‘teaching pattern’. That being said, I’m happy with the results!

I’ve gotten some good use out of these this summer. They’re not revolutionary tops, but they’re cool and useful. It’s possible I would have had more detail shots, if I hadn’t gotten distracted by some friendly strangers…

You don’t care that I don’t use tear-away Vilene, do you, pretty horse?

Pattern: Tessuti Romy top I & II

Pattern cost: $8.62

Size: 95% of M, with changes, above

Supplies: 1.25 yards white linen, Sewfisticated, $8.74; scraps of cotton voile from stash (for facings); thread from stash

Total time: 2.25 hours/1.5 hours

Total cost: $17.36 for both tops

Thick Thighs Save Lives

Several of our friends and family members are having or have just had children, so Professor Boyfriend and I took an international bambini tour! Plus we took advantage of this baby-greeting travel to revisit Oxford, a city we lived in for four years (him) and a year and five summers (me). This has nothing to do with my new shorts, but everything to do with these photos, since we took them in beautiful Port Meadow. I got nettlerash! Because I was wearing shorts. Sooo. Duh, I suppose?

To be specific, I was wearing the Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts. I experienced an interruption of shorts service this summer; my body got bigger and all my existing shorts were suddenly up my crack. I couldn’t think of a shorts pattern I *had* to have, so I used The Foldline’s Pattern Database and rustled up the Ferns.

Pros: turn ups, high waist with a traditional waistband (I’m not hating on elastic, I just don’t like sewing it), and I saw it modeled on plenty of bloggers with a similar heft to their hips and thighs to mine.

Cons: invisible side zipper.

OR IS IT?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the invisible side zip to a full pirate’s booty of front fly buttons. I needed this pattern to work with a front fly if we were going to be a thing long-term, as every invisible zip I’ve ever installed looks like poo and breaks immediately.

I was mildly hornswoggled to print and assemble my pattern and discover all sizes shared one outseam line. My most meaningful grading, then, would occur along the crotch curve and inseam, and that’s where I proposed to make major changes.

Luckily I had a long enough straightaway on the crotch, grading from D to E, to pop on a ‘self-drafted’ fly extension (it’s a rectangle with a curved bottom, I wasn’t exactly designing a rocket ship). I made a decision on the fly (HO HO HO) to use my crotch to display a golden rivet trove and then enjoyed this very excellent button fly tutorial and did so.

My fly is actually longer than necessary! I don’t have to unbutton the bottom button to get in and out of these. But if you’re going to have four shiny gold eye-catchers up your front rise, why not have five?

I extended the waistband by 4” to accommodate the over- and under-laps. It’s a rectangle, so, again, ‘drafting’ seems like a strong word. I also cut two belt loop pieces and divided them each into thirds, instead of one piece into fourths, as directed.

First try-on was a success. I was really very happy with the crotch curve! It’s comfortable and stays the hell away from both North and South Wedgieville. And hooray, the buttons buttoned. The legs were a smidge too wide at the bottom for my liking, so I took an additional ¾” seam allowance on the outseams, starting from the hem and blending at the hip.

Hey, why is no-one talking about front darts? Front darts are THE BUSINESS. My diameter changes by a foot from waist to hip, give this girl some front darts. I look forward to playing with these – there are pleated shorts in my future!

Basically, I’m a happy bunny! I made this trial pair in leftover rigid Cone Mills denim, and I liked them enough to immediately cut into my other large denim scrap.

I had less of this dark denim so these have a 3” inseam and no turn ups. Also, a traditional fly zip. On this pair I curved the waistband slightly, removing about an inch from the top edge. Sorry for the lack of detail in these photos – we had to run home to change (I wasn’t getting my pins out in Public Nettle Meadow) and we lost the light!

I do have a fun story about this pair of shorts. I got to England right before that series of record-breaking hot days and tried to change into these shorts right away, only my dang button had broken at the shaft. Not the thread, the actual shaft. So no more button! I was staring down the barrel of 97°F with only one pair of shorts in my suitcase when I remembered…OXFORD HAS A JOHN LEWIS NOW.  

I’m not sure anyone who DIDN’T move away from Oxford months before the opening of its John Lewis can understand the slow but certain blossoming of joy in my heart. To those not yet lucky enough to go, it’s like an employee-owned Mega Target. And crucially, it has a haberdashery! So I could buy a button!

THIS BUTTON!

Separately, before setting off for England I bought a new watch (I don’t have a smartphone, so it’s a pretty crucial tool, especially when travelling). My last one was a $15 stopgap that lasted two years while the band slowly dissolved like wet cardboard, so I’m pretty pleased with the new guy.

It’s from The Horse, for any other analog fans.

To sum up: I dig my new shorts, sewing them was a snap, fly fronts + front darts 4 life.

I’ll be back soon to talk about the top I’m wearing in these photos – with other, nearly indistinguishable photos!

Pattern: Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts I & II

Pattern cost: $8.14

Size: D at waist, E at hip, with changes, above

Supplies: scraps of Cone Mills denim in Mint; scraps of Wrangler overstock denim; 1/2 yard of Dear Stella Aweigh North Sailor Toile Sand Fabric, Gather Here, $5.75; thread, Michael’s, $2.39; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.40

Total time: 6.5 hours/4.5 hours

Total cost: $17.68 for both pairs