Stroopwafel Marlo

I’m not tempted by some luxuries – like, as far as I can tell, a luxury hotel room is still a stuffy bland box and a luxury car is still a roll-y box that goes beep. And then some seem totally worth it – tea and chocolate, haircuts with good-smelling shampoo, the Petit Trianon. Happily my recent splurge showed me that nice knit fabrics fall into the second category. I got myself 2 2-yard cuts from iseefabric for my birthday, hoping to fill in some holes in my homemade wardrobe. The colors are beautiful, they’re squishy and warm, and they showed up as two wonderful fat rolls snuggled in a box. Budget-wise this is going to be a Sometimes Food, but I have no regrets!

This is the first of them, a waffle knit in the color maple. It’s quite possibly the power of suggestion that led me to pick this color (maple + waffle! Delicious!) but it’s a closet pal and gets along with most other colors. It was really fun to work with – satisfying to handle and sew, it even held a press well, thanks to 95% The Fabric of Our Lives (also 5% The Spandex of Our Lives). The drape is heavy. It’s warm. It’s soft. Basically, I love it.

Speaking of loving it, this is the Marlo sweater by True Bias, and uh…I love it also. This was the other part of my birthday gift to me. Basically I bought this sweater pattern and used it to blackmail myself into buying fancy fabric (“If you don’t buy fancy fabric you’ll be wasting $14 and untold cents of toner!”). And I used the fancy fabric to make myself buy the pattern (“If you don’t lay out the pattern and calculate the amount of fabric you need yourself, you might buy the wrong amount!”). It worked like a charm, I never saw it coming.

My size – 10 bust, graded to a 14 hip – called for 2.2 yards of 54” wide fabric, but I found 2 yards to be more than sufficient (this is mainly important when ordering online, especially since iseefabric only sells whole-yard cuts). Mine doesn’t have pockets, but I did cut the pocket pieces out, interface them, hem the tops and everything, only to discover I couldn’t turn or attach the rounded corners to my own satisfaction. I stitched one on before deciding that the stretch of the fabric + texture of the fabric + asymmetrical corners weren’t going to fly. Unpicking went almost flawlessly, but then I snagged one little thread on the back of the sweater front. It doesn’t seem to have run, so I’m hopeful!

I do have enough scrap fabric to recut the pockets as squares. I might. I feel the lack of them, but I’m not confident I can sew them as neatly as I’d like.

The fabric has a very relaxed recovery so this sweater definitely grew in the making. It will probably shrink back again someday (Spandex), but I don’t know when! I added grosgrain ribbon to the shoulder seams as suggested, which is attractive and functional (as opposed to clear elastic, which is just functional), but it’s attached to the back so you can’t see it anyway.

Because of the fabric’s lack of springiness/recovery, I cut the longer band, even though it stretched more than 40%. That’s probably why it kind of slumps at the center back.

Because I didn’t stretch the band much, though, I was able to hand-sew the inner edge. That’s right, I used the ‘fancy finishing’ method on the bands and cuffs, only more so. I felt mildly goofy hand-sewing on a knit but I didn’t think I could machine stitch perfectly on the first try, and I didn’t want to risk unpicking again! Also, I don’t have matching serger thread (I have two colors – black and white).

I was forewarned by Beck’s post that the last 10 pages of the print-at-home PDF were just the button placement guides for each size. I decided to print none of them, to avoid waste, so my buttons ended up sCanDoloUsLY low.

The buttons, by the way, are vintage leather from my never-ending flea market bag and are also arguably waffle-esque, which I enjoy. I like the brown tones together a lot (alternative color family name, “caramel macchiato”).

The elements of this project were expensive but the final sweater does feel truly luxurious, and luckily not like a sad beige bag. And I’m definitely going to make another Marlo! I want to try the cropped view next. think the success of this piece is due partly to a solid pattern, but a lot to the fanciness of the fabric. Now that I’ve had a taste of the good stuff, I want more grade-A maple syrup every day!   

Pattern: True Bias Marlo sweater, long view

Pattern cost: $14.00

Size: 10 bust, 14 hips

Supplies: 2 yards of organic cotton thermal waffle knit in Maple, iseefabric, $31.90; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $45.90

Removable Collar

Hi! Come in, get cozy, let’s make a collar! As a reminder, I added a removable sherpa collar to my Hampton jean (well, corduroy) jacket, and today is the how-to.

Oh, but first the why-to – it makes a surprising amount of difference to the warmth of the jacket, and while it’s a pain to put on and take off, once it’s on it’s less fuss than a scarf. And I like the way it looks. 😎 I was jazzed about the idea of ‘removable’ because I wanted to be able to launder it separately or replace it if it aged faster than the rest of the jacket (plushy materials, especially cheap plushy materials, get mangy so fast – or maybe just mine do, but still).  

I figured out some better techniques mid-sewing. The diagrams are idealized – the photos show what I actually did, ha!

First, prepping your pattern! If you’ve already finished your coat, you can add a collar after the fact, but if not, it’s a good idea to add some interfacing where the buttons will be sewn. The Hampton collar has no interfacing as written – you could interface the whole thing, or just add it in spots to preserve the casual drape. That’s what I did. To ensure I could find them again I sewed “X”s from corner-to-corner of my interfacing squares.

Have your collar pattern piece handy (on the Hampton jacket it’s a half-piece, which is what you’ll see reflected here), and let’s boogie –

Now isn’t that all very tidy and sensible? It’s, um, not what I did. I did prepare my jacket collar mostly as described.

But I didn’t patch-interface my inner collar, which was a misjudgment that I’ll hopefully get away with. There’s not a ton of stress on the buttons, but I’d feel more secure if the fabric had a little support! Oh, and a note on the number of buttons: I had leftovers from an old shirt; 5 medium, 3 small. The pacing and placement worked out, which was pure luck. I’ll take it!

My fabric, by the way, is the same fineline twill I used for the pocket bags to reduce bulk. Same purpose here. My sherpa is pretty cheap (in quality, not in price, cry for me – it was my last fabric.com order before I learned that website is owned by Amazon) and it shed like a sonuva, in addition to having unexpected stretch, so I immediately interfaced it and serged the edges.

Originally that long rectangle piece was going to extend beyond the sherpa. I was going to sew buttons below the collar, not on it, hence my short finished edges.

Above I recommend cutting the undercollar in two pieces on the bias, because using mine cut on the straight grain proved it will crumple and crunch instead of conforming to the curl of the collar. If/when I remake this collar (if I can source nicer sherpa material, fer instance) that will be my biggest change.

Now, about that sticky-outy rectangle – it didn’t work! It was unsightly and uncomfortable. That’s why I landed on a folded-under rectangle band; it’s harder to button, but much nicer to wear. If you really don’t want spare buttons on your inside collar (I admit they’re pretty obvious) you could hem the sherpa layer in a similar way, but tuck little loops, like a cut-up hair elastic, between the rectangle and the sherpa. That way your buttons could still be below the collar but the attachment would be pretty low-profile.

Definitely understitch, and definitely wrap the seam allowance towards the undercollar! I guarantee you’ll only see fuzzy cozy sherpa when wearing a collar constructed like this! I finished my edges with bias tape, which was a bit of an overreaction. Serging probably would have been fine.

Anyway, as throw pillows are pets for your couch, my jacket has a pet collar! I’m glad this experiment worked out, and I might reconstruct it one day with better know-how and nicer materials. That’s the power…of removability!

If you have any questions about any of this, let me know!

Stay warm! Merry happy!!

Pattern: Alina Sewing + Design Co Hampton jean jacket (just the collar)

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 12 – my rectangle was 19 ¾” long

Supplies: 1 yard of Shannon Minky Luxe Cuddle Sherpa Ivory; leftover fineline twill, fabric.com, $18.28; buttons, thread from stash

Total time: 4.25 hours

Total cost: $18.28

Keeping Warm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pattern: MN Jarrah

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 10

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

Total time: 2 hours

Total cost: $15.98

Pattern: Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants

Pattern cost: $0.00

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

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

Total time: 6.25

Total cost: $31.88

Winter Coat 1: Inside

Nothing finished to show today, but I wanted to post some details about sewing my first me-made winter coat. Last year I decided that this year I would finally sew a winter coat. Late November/early December is not the most fore-thoughtful time to start a winter coat project, but in my defense a) my cherry tomatoes were ripening on the vine a week into November, so clearly winter would never actually happen and b) I was scaaared. Mostly b. I haven’t all the way stopped being scared, but I did get chilly, and that’s a great motivator.

My first choice was the budget. It’s $212. If you’re thinking this seems arbitrary, then yup, that’s numberwang! But it was the amount of cash I had in credit card rewards when I committed to this project, and it’s been a helpful number to limit spending in some areas but also encourage me to splash out in others. With my financials handled, it was time to start gathering supplies!

The pattern

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Grainline Yates coat – $20.00 (picture from Grainline website)

The Yates wasn’t my first choice, at least not until my even firster choice was a sewalong that would lead me like a baby lamb to gentle pastures. Also, a collar that would keep my neck warm. So yes, my priorities, in order, were:

  1. The baby lamb treatment.
  2. Big ol’ collar. 

Yates it was! Also-rans were the Named Gaia (left) and the Schnittchen Joanna (right) (again, pictures from websites).

Both cool coats (and similar in some ways – boxy fit, wide lapels), but I really didn’t want a cold gust of wind smooching the back of my neck.

The shell

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Navy boiled wool/viscose, Mood Fabrics – 3 yards, $90 (picture from site)

This was the single biggest expense, especially sight unseen (I couldn’t find anything warm enough locally). I didn’t order a swatch – I knooow! – but luckily the wool is very heavy, with a nice drape, and a gorgeous spongy bouncy texture. Unexpectedly, it’s got a pebbly, fuzzy surface. Can you tell? Maybe you’re better at analyzing photos of wool than I am! Maybe you order swatches! Um.

The interfacing

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Pro Weft medium-weight fusible, Fashion Sewing Supply – 2 yards, $40.50 (picture from site)

This was my largest unexpected expense. Completely worth it, by the way! The Yates is fusible tailored rather than pad-stitched or anything like that so I thought it was worth investing in the nice stuff. And this stuff is nice – nicer than some fabrics I’ve sewn with, honestly. And at 60” wide, it’s not actually ruinously expensive. I bought this interfacing in charcoal to minimize any potential show-through. When fused it almost moves like skin. I know that sounds a little gross, but it’s really ideal – soft, smooth, moving flexibly with the wool. I promise this is not a banned French novel. It’s just really good interfacing!

I did a lot of internet searching to figure out the right weight and type of interfacing for my project, and I couldn’t find a definitive source. So while I’m not calling myself definitive, pardon a little SEO for other winter-coat newbies who might be making the same searches – best interfacing for winter coats! Right interfacing for wool! Medium-weight interfacing for heavy fabrics! Supple supple supple! (Eww.)

The lining

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Orange and monstera cotton sateen, Spoonflower – 2 yards, $19/$54 (picture from site)

Since I picked sensible navy for the shell I wanted to have fun with the lining, and these designs by Tasiania, available on Spoonflower, were irresistible. So big and bold and punchy! Technically the Yates pattern calls for a little over two yards of lining fabric, but I have navy bemberg in my stash for the sleeves, so I’ll save $27 thankyouverymuch. I chose the sateen because it was wide, smooth, and vibrant, and because while something slippery might have been a better choice I read one review that described Spoonflower satin as “sleazy” and could not unring that bell. Cotton it is! I don’t mind wrinkling and I don’t wear tights/hose often enough to worry much about static cling. Also, I had a $35 credit and got free shipping, so my two yards cost me $19 out of pocket (hence the two prices listed above).

This was my first Spoonflower order, and I had a minor freakout when the fabric arrived. The hand of the printed fabric didn’t resemble the cotton sateen in my swatch book, but the Spoonflower team was very chill and helpful and let me wash the fabric before evaluating it. It softened up a little and the colors didn’t lose any oomph. It’s definitely still not soft – I wouldn’t use it for a shirt, for example. The pattern is terrific though.

The interlining

I read about Thinsulate. I read about lambswool. I read about silk for trapping body heat and nylon for cutting the wind and Kasha for warmth. I bought two yards of black microfleece. What the heck, it’s warm and cheap! $15.56.

Muslining

I didn’t order a wool swatch but I DID sew a muslin ($8 for 4 yards of muslin), and it was a valuable exercise. I know this looks like a paper labcoat, but it put my two biggest fears to rest – would it pull around my hips (nope!) and are the sleeves long enough (yup!). And it alerted me to a huge issue, which was the narrowness of the sleeve. The size 10 sleeve as drafted is on my right arm, and the size 10 sleeve with 1” full bicep adjustment is on my left arm, and the difference in comfort is enormous.

I’m surprised at how similar they look in photos, but I needed that inch! I couldn’t fit a sweater-clad arm into the original version. And I’ma clad my arms in some sweaters this winter.

All the parts you won’t see later

I wanted to record the insides of my coat before they’re hidden forever, for similar coat beginners and of course for my own glory (*waves regally*). Despite choosing this pattern 75% for the sewalong, I haven’t had to look at it yet! Sewing the shell and the lining are both really straightforward. That’s even with added steps – the interlining, for example, which I cut and machine-basted to all the lining pieces within the seam allowances before construction.

Despite the thoroughness and clarity of this pattern and the instructions, I have one major bone to pick – the booklet asks you to pause after sewing the shell to try the coat on, and then sew the lining if the shell fits! Surely this is backwards? If you’re going to skip the muslin you should sew the lining first, right? Am I coconuts?

Thankfully my muslin was confirmed and the shell fits! I took narrower seam allowances on the upper sleeves, blending back to ½” at the armscye and wrist. Otherwise I just followed the directions.

Right side out shown, followed by inside out. Not only did I follow the directions, I made up more directions and followed those too! First, I catch-stitched all my seam allowances either open or in the direction indicated. No one said to do this but I figured it was so time-consuming, it must be the right idea!

I also sewed some homemade shoulder pads, but I couldn’t figure out how to adapt the sleeve head pattern piece, so I skipped that part. I wasn’t completely sure how to attach a finished pad, but I whip-stitched the relatively straight edge to the armscye seam allowance and then tacked it down at the other end to the shoulder seam allowance. The Yates coat doesn’t call for these, but I’m experiencing a kind of coat-related magical thinking. Do more stuff = better coat.

I also ran a small, not very tight running stitch along the edge of the interfacing, wherever it was applied on the bias, to attach it to the coat. It’s invisible from the outside and it gave me confidence that those crucial areas – the roll line and the back stay – would stay interfaced.

Wool is so fun to sew. I feel very loved by wool.

Here’s the lining, and lots more catch-stitching! I probably wouldn’t choose the cotton sateen substrate at this intensity again. Because of the tight weave and full ink coverage I could feel my needle punching through the fabric, and my stitches ‘float’ on top instead of sinking in, so something to think about if you’re ordering a very saturated pattern from Spoonflower. That being said: it’s fun, right?

I changed the back pleat to back gathers, as my lining + interlining combo was too thick to look anything but stupid with an inverted box pleat. It was like folding a cheese sandwich into pleats. I imagine it’s all very elegant in a single layer of shimmering silk, buuut New England. And I walk to work. So.   

Next: the facings, and then the bagging. OH THE BAGGING. It’ll be a first!

I hope my next post will be of the finished coat. I’ll include a time and cost breakdown there (sneak preview – lots, and lots).

Bye for now!

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

I’m keeping it simple this week with a circle skirt, that classic no-pattern-needed darling. I actually learned about circle skirts before I learned about stay-stitching, which is why one of my earliest sewing struggles involved repeatedly trying on a circle skirt with widening seam allowances AND an increasingly loose waist, two things that seemed mutually incompatible and almost sent me around the bend. Heed my warning and stay-stitch the waist curve!

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I don’t generally wear skirts but I like circle skirts. They’re fabric guzzlers, sure, but with a little careful laying-out, you can definitely reduce fabric waste.   

By the way, I know this is practically sewing internet sedition, but I think the BHL circle skirt calculator is lousy. If your waist is over 30” in circumference and you want a skirt longer than a mini the calculator will announce that IT CANNOT BE DONE. HUMANKIND HAS NOT YET WROUGHT A FABRIC WIDE ENOUGH TO CONTAIN YOUR MAJESTY.

But, I mean, it can though. And it’s not hard. Unfortunately I don’t have a better solution available than just doing the math! But dare I whisper: math is fun?!

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Mine is a full circle skirt, and the finished length is 26”. My waist is about 31.5” at the moment; your longest possible skirt length would vary based upon that measurement, your fabric width, and your preference.

No pattern means no helpful pattern envelope, but I like to use Photoshop to figure out my fabric requirements.

Circumference = 2πr, so 31.5 = 2πr, 15.75 = πr, and 5 = r (or definitely close enough for me). First I draw a half-circle with a radius of 5 inches, centered within a half-circle with a radius of 31 inches (my desired skirt length plus my waist radius). I then create a Photoshop document that’s 44 inches tall, to represent the width of my fabric, minus 1” for seam allowances. I duplicate, flip, and arrange my skirt pattern pieces, then add a few extra inches for a waistband. When I check the image size of the Photoshop document I now know I’ll need 112 inches – a.k.a. about 3 yards – of fabric for my circle skirt! Well, almost. I’m 4” over, but I’m definitely willing to make my waistband narrower, or cut it in multiple pieces, or on the cross grain, to avoid ordering an extra yard. When shopping locally, I’d buy the extra 1/8th yard or whatever.

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I still have to add seam allowances, but I’ll do that when cutting. Don’t forget to add SA to the waist curve too, which will actually make the hole smaller. It’ll work out though.

I like to use the selvages as my side seam allowances, because they’re stable and already finished, which skips a step. Plus, I’d rather install a zipper on the selvage instead of the bias any day! Even if I was somehow cutting this in a single piece I’d try to place my zipper on the grain or the cross-grain, to reduce buckling. Brace yourself for my best-ever invisible zipper, by the way. It’s…fine.

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The waistband is slightly longer than the waist opening and closes with a hook and bar. I didn’t worry about pattern-matching, obviously, except across my pocket openings. For some reason when I decided to add slash pockets I used quilting cotton for the pocket bags instead of self-fabric. That reason is lost in the mists of time – I sewed this before 2017, the first year I maintained a sewing spreadsheet! I don’t mind the rabbits peeping out, though!

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 The hem is finished with bias tape, with one edge hand-stitched, BY FAR the easiest way to finish a circular hem in my opinion. I used yet another quilting cotton here! Scissors this time. One presumes pre-2017 Lia was enjoying herself.

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The fabric is Robert Kaufman Mammoth flannel. I generally don’t consider myself a fangirl but I looove Kaufman fabrics. The Mammoth flannel becomes less soft and plushy after pre-washing, but it’s still warm and vibrant and easy to sew. It’s cotton, so I dry it on the hottest setting the first time, to get any shrinking out of the way, and warm after that.

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There’s not much to say about the fit – if you can measure your waist, you can fit a circle skirt. I like the proportions of a half-circle skirt, even an elegant quarter-circle, but for wintertime warmth and hip accommodation, you can’t beat the whole pizza.

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This is what happens when you have a drippy nose but need to take blog pictures!

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Oh, and this is what happens when you go for a winter walk and drink a white hot chocolate from Burdick’s and then try to twirl for blog pictures – you get dizzy and your insides say “EXCUSE ME?” and then you don’t want to twirl anymore. So no true twirly pics. But the hot chocolate is worth it!  

Wishing you some time to practice gratitude this week (and of course lots to be grateful for)! If you live in the United States of America, perhaps consider supporting a Native organization on Giving Tuesday. Thanksgiving is weird, but I hope you have a good one!

Pattern: Circle skirt, no pattern

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 31.5” waist

Supplies: 3 yards of Robert Kaufman Mammoth flannel in Plaid Scarlet, estimated $30 (pre-2017, so no notes); invisible zipper, hook and bar closure

Total time: Pre-2017, unrecorded

Total cost: $30.00?