#2 Toaster #2

I recently ordered fabric while chilly.

I’m henceforth going to make all my shopping decisions while chilly. I’m not saying the cold makes my brain work better, just that 4 yards of Kaufman Trainers French Terry Fleece was EXACTLY what I wanted to sew with in January. I got two lengths, one for a sweater and one for sweats. This first one is called Woodrose. After 4 years, it finally kicked my butt into gear to make another Toaster #2 sweater!

I sewed my original 2017 Toaster from soft, drapey modal French terry. While it didn’t exactly work, I could see it had potential. By the way, Sew House Seven is steadily + reliably updating their catalogue to add sizes up to 34, and I believe the Toaster will be included soon.

When browsing cold-weather fabrics, I saw Kaufman does a French terry now. I picked this color to go with the skirt I made recently. I’m trying to add more variety/warmth/elegance/overall oomph to my winter wardrobe, but even so my clicking-finger hovered over my typical Sienna for a while; maybe next time!

Hawthorne Supply Co. sells fabric by the 1/8 yard, which is terrific, because the pattern calls for 1 5/8 yards; half-yard cuts would have left me with an awkward amount leftover, guaranteed. I shortened the body of the sweater 1.5”, and I have 6” extra selvedge-to-selvedge. I like the finished length, so next time I can order 1.5 yards. Climb back into my pocket, sweet little $1.70! You’re safe now.

I haven’t been working on anything madly complicated lately but this still seemed like a luxuriously tiny number of pattern pieces. Front, back, sleeve, badda-boom. I compared the front and back armscyes, and they are shaped differently as I hoped/expected, but the sleeve itself is vertically symmetrical. What’s that about? It doesn’t affect comfort, so maybe it’s a knit thing.

When I make another Toaster #2, I’ll extend the width of the grown-on neck facing to reach the shoulder seam. It’s like an inch away anyway, max; may as well anchor it there. Missed opportunity. The split mitered hem is a quick, clear, fun part to sew, though! I added a sassy little triangular fold before topstitching the top of the vent allowances.

Construction went quickly, but I spent a solid hour or more at the end of the process just futzing. The front funnel neck looked odd. There seemed to be too much fabric above the bust, or maybe too much width? Maybe some combination of those? I did my usual ‘tug tests’ – pulling the fabric tighter, looser, forward, back, etc., and have concluded that I don’t know much about history biology what a slide rule is for fitting the upper bust, but I know how to show a sweater a good time.

I tried stitching in the ditch to keep the neck facing in place, by hand and by machine; topstitching along the long front and back edge of the facings; making the front neck deeper and shallower; pressing in a crisp edge, pressing it out again; and finally, topstitching a few random sigils to keep everything in place in the best arrangement I could manage.

After a day of wearing, I realized moving my head around an average amount crushes the front funnel neck anyway, and the fit wrinkles either hide inside of the use wrinkles or merge into mega-wrinkles. It’s moot.

Somewhere there’s a fabric with enough body to stand up at the neck and enough drape to move gracefully across the mysterious hinterland of my upper chest, but is it 95% cotton, fleece-lined, and $13.50/yard? Probably not. Weird neck aside, I loved sewing this fabric. It was so cooperative and just beefy enough (also, beefiness will never not hit me as the most hilarious sewing qualifier). I used a stretch stitch on the shoulders, sides, and cuffs, and a straight stitch on the hem, and it was fine with both.

The fabric is quite malleable, but it has a low recovery. This pattern actually calls for 5/8” seams throughout, but I used ¼” seam allowances on the sleeve and side seams, so my S bust graded to a M waist might be more like an M graded to L when all is said and done. I like the balance of the width and the length and I really appreciate that it has a set-in sleeve, as I’m feeling distinctly cool towards drop shoulders lately. I asked Professor Boyfriend what era he thought it was referencing and he Zoidberg-scuttled away because he thought it was a trap, but it’s an honest question. I definitely feel a bit past-y, but I’m not sure when!

I’d love to learn how to read and fix these wrinkles before I make another Toaster #2, but I still like this one. It’s fuzzy inside, actually warm, and the color is different enough from the rest of my wardrobe that it goes with practically anything. You’ll probably see it again in a week or two!

In the meantime, I might go use my actual toaster and make some hot buttered toast. Mmm. Always a good idea!

Pattern: Sew House Seven Toaster #2 sweater

Pattern cost: NA

Size: S bust, M waist, with ¼” sleeve and side seams

Supplies: 1 5/8 yards Kaufman Trainers French Terry Fleece in Woodrose, Hawthorne Supply Co., $24.92; thread from stash

Total time: 3.75 hours

Total cost: $24.92

Winter Shirtdress

I’m so close to being done with my quilted jacket, but not quite. In the meantime, I have something a little less exuberant to share – actually this is another farewell tour, so say hello & goodbye to my would-be-could-be-but-isn’t go-to winter shirtdress.

After two consecutive winters of wearing this zero times, it’s time to say goodbye (I’ve yet to successfully integrate a dress into my casual wardrobe). This particular experiment hails from 2017 and is mostly a Deer & Doe Melilot, with guest star, the fabled but rarely seen Grainline Archer bum ruffle. I alternate between thinking that ruffle is pretty unappealing and craaaving a bum ruffle Archer shirt; it’s the honey mustard pretzel bites of shirt views.

The fabric is brushed cotton, 4 yards of Kaufman Grizzly Plaid cotton to be precise. It’s soft but less bulky than their Shetland flannel. 2017 Lia was apparently pretty apprehensive about fabric thickness though, since a lot of my decisions appear to have been made to reduce bulk, unfortunately sometimes at the expense of quality/longevity. I was also living that new-serger life, which contributed.

The inner collar stand has a serged bottom edge, which is surprisingly not too obvious. I pictured this being worn done all the way up the neck, and it is the way it looks best, but I really put baby in a corner, style-wise, there. Cover your collarbones or reveal your lazy serging, hussy! The collar is closed by a silver ring snap, and there’s a second snap about 3 inches below that one. And for the rest of the placket…nothin’. It’s funny for me to revisit old projects; I’ve become a sewing completist since then. I would have placed snaps all along the placket nowadays, whether or not I planned to use them.

This isn’t the first popover placket I’ve bungled, but it’s among the worst! Since the Melilot has a full placket I would have followed an online tutorial; I don’t remember which, but this nice, recent CC one makes it clear that it’s just a sleeve placket writ large. I’m not sure how I made it so complicated, but line up it does not.

My other bulk-reduction moment is in the sleeves – I wanted to wear this with a rolled cuff, and again didn’t leave any other choice, since the sleeves are finished with scrap cotton cuffs. Serged on the outside, no less.

I like the visual balance of the cuff but the placement is just wrong. I thought a full-length sleeve would be overwhelming on a dress, but I judged the shortened sleeve length incorrectly, so it’s not very comfortable; the cuffs sit over my elbows, so I’m always either tugging them down or feeling them ride up.

The interior seams are serged as well, except the hem, which I finished with bias tape. I like the extravagantly swoopy Melilot shirt hem and I transferred it downwards. That does make the sides pretty short!

Plaid matching fell by the wayside as I adjusted this dress. Originally I lengthened the Melilot shirt (size 42) by 11” and added extra space for my hips. I used the shape of the Melilot back, but divided at the height placement and along the curve of the Archer bum ruffle seam. The lower half is also mostly Melilot, with the upper edge shape and width of the bum ruffle. This turned out to be a series of nopes. I had to shorten the top back to raise the ruffle by 1.5” to make it even barely a top-bum rather than a mid-bum ruffle, remove the added volume from the hips (in a word: saddlebags), and shorten the dress overall by 4.5”.

The finished dress isn’t terrible. It’s not the most thoughtfully constructed but it’s warm; the details are sloppy, but the silhouette isn’t bad. But I just don’t wear it! I can blame the usual suspects; the length, the fact that it’s a dress at all, lack of pride in the finishing. I think this candid more or less sums it up.

 And I also think it’s just a bit blah! I could see something like this working in a warm, colorful flannel, but the last thing I reach for in winter is top-to-toe grey.

Okay, now picture this with me instead: a winter shirt, maybe needlecord, deep jade or dark teal, shiny buttons…and a bum ruffle?! Maybe someday!  

Pattern: Deer & Doe Melilot (mostly)

Pattern cost: $10 (my first Melilot, weirdly!)

Size: 42, extended 6.5”

Supplies: 4 yards Kaufman Grizzly Plaid cotton, Mercer’s Fabric, $28.80; snaps, Michael’s, $3.00; thread from stash

Total time: 10.75 hours

Total cost: $41.80

Ol’ Farmer Pants

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

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

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

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

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

Come closer, my pretty. Closerrr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evenin’, all!  

Pattern: Pauline Alice Turia dungarees

Pattern cost: $9.00

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

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

Total time: 6.75 hours

Total cost: $41.49

Pattern: Deer and Doe Mélilot

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 42

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

Total time: 6.5 hours

Total cost: $15.53

Keeping Warm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pattern: MN Jarrah

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 10

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

Total time: 2 hours

Total cost: $15.98

Pattern: Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants

Pattern cost: $0.00

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

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

Total time: 6.25

Total cost: $31.88

Silver Bells

This is my first Fibre Mood pattern, the Faye dress! Ordinarily I’m a little hesitant to buy a pattern on a whim (I own so many patterns already!) but I got swoony for this design. Plus, I felt like I had a little pattern “slush fund”, since most years I have a wishlist for the fall/winter pattern sales, but this year I only planned to and did buy one (the Thread Theory Comox trunks – unlikely to be modeled strappingly in the forest on this blog, but it seems like a handy pattern).  

I feel like Fibre Mood just popped onto the scene all at once – or more likely I just got in the know! Beck at I Sew Therefore I Am has been sewing up a storm with their patterns (personal fave, this dress) and Carolyn at Handmade by Carolyn actually made the Faye (how’s that for credentials?).

Anyway, I decided to make several impractical choices simultaneously: I would sew a new Christmas dress (unnecessary) in a metallic fabric (what) from a new-to-me pattern company (why) that requires almost 5 yards of my desired fabric ($$$ ouch). 

Luckily, Mikey likes it I like it!

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I styled this differently for our Christmas party – red ribbon for a belt, green shoes, and garnet earrings. But I was worried about wearing those earrings outside the house (they’re vintage clip-ons and sometimes one gives up its grip and I feel it slither down my neck) so this is a more restrained take on that same outfit. Yes. A staid sparkly swishy silver dress styling session. Indeed.

I’m happy with the pattern drafting and the final dress, but the process was NOT straightforward. First, you have to add your own seam allowances. I know this is standard for many companies and it makes it easier to manipulate pattern pieces, move darts, etc., but I am lazy. Secondly, the print shop file overlaps the pattern pieces, so you’d have to trace or print more than one copy for continuous pieces. The instruction layout is also no bueno. The cutting and interfacing charts are on the last pages, as is a list of seams to which you’re not supposed to add seam allowance. Surprise!

However, I can grudgingly admit it was kind of nice to choose my seam allowances. I added 3/8” because I knew I would be using my serger to finish. I didn’t add a hem allowance, and effectively removed the SA from the waist seam, too, after trying the dress on. And there’s some clever fitting details – the chest flap is not a tuck, but actually a separate pattern piece, and there’s shaping in that seam (front flaps and back yoke). Also, the size range is terrific! I sewed a 40 – near the top of some pattern ranges, but this one goes up to 58. Whoo! That being said, you can’t turn layers off and on, so some of the notches were impossible to distinguish. And there was no yardage listed for narrower fabric (for this size I used 5 yards. Woof). 

I think sizes in the 50s would be able to use 45” wide fabric, too, because the skirt is cut on the crossgrain. Something to be aware of if your fabric is directional. Mine has slubby ‘stripes’, mostly visible close up. I alternated grain direction in a quite a few places, mainly to conserve fabric. That skirt has an appetite for yardage!!   

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I made changes when sewing, some more on-purpose-y than others! Some were simple mistakes, like accidentally using the neckline binding piece to make a rouleau hanging loop, so that workwear-inspired detail is now the silliest, daintiest touch.

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Some were thoughtful decisions, like baby-hemming the whole skirt before sewing the front plackets to reduce hem bulk.

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Or adjusting the pattern pieces to work with the pocket sewing technique from Threads #195, Feb./March 2018 (oh my goodness, these are my best inseam pockets ever).

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Some were combo choices/mistakes, like changing the numbers of pleats from three to two and then signally failing to align them (see above, oops). Still, it was the right decision for my body – I was worried about the waist measurement, but I didn’t want to sacrifice pleat depth. This is your friendly neighborhood reminder to retake your measurements before taping and cutting a zillion pieces of paper, and not immediately afterwards, for some reason, yah goofball.

One was just a honking mistake. Here goes: first I finished the whole bodice but the plackets, then the whole skirt but the plackets. I went to join them, and discovered that I had trimmed one bodice placket and one skirt placket, as directed – on opposite sides. Well, dang it! I had a good chunk of scrap fabric left, so I trimmed the center bodice that was too wide, and added a new placket piece to the side that had been too short. I went to attach the bodice and skirt again, and discovered I had done it right the first time. As in, I had somehow flipped the pieces when pinning, and then went ahead and cut off the bodice placket extension that had actually been on the correct side. What’s a girl to do? Cut off the skirt placket extension, obviously, and cut a new one for the other side. BLERGH. I couldn’t believe myself. This is extra annoying because if I had planned ahead to do all this extra sewing anyway I could have cut the placket extension as a single piece and not had the multi-layered waist seam popping up when worn unbelted!

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GIRRRL. Well, it’s nothing a safety pin won’t fix.

I’ve never constructed a blind button placket like these directions instructed, but the result was fine; a little bulky, but very neat. It’s a bit clever how they have you handle the flap, too – flipping it up and down to sewn a continuous line.

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You can see that stitching line here, plus the seam on the edge of the placket where I had to reattach after my faulty impulse chopping. Also, the texture of the fabric. I used Kaufman Manchester Metallics cotton (plus Lurex, and I think a pinch of polyester). It’s mildly scratchy to wear but a dream to sew. Crisp, light, easy to handle and press, good drape but very stable. I saw it described as semi-sheer but it seems opaque to me!    

This dress is foolish, but dang it, also fun.  I haven’t figured out how to integrate it into my everyday wardrobe, but I’m considering separating the top and bottom halves. On the other hand, am I really much more likely to wear a silver skirt than a silver dress?

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If I ever figure it out, I’ll let you know!

See you in the twenties!

Pattern: Fibre Mood Faye dress

Pattern cost: $8.50

Size: 40

Supplies: 5 yards of Kaufman Manchester Metallic in Silver, $49.69, fabric.com; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 11.75 hours

Total cost: $58.19

Winter Coat 2: Outside

Are you ready?

Are you sure?

I GOT A HAIRCUT!

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Haha, just kidding – I mean, I did get a much-needed haircut, yes, but what I mean is I FINISHED MY YATES COAT! And just in time, as you can see.

First of all, bagging a coat is amazing and I want to do it again. Like, immediately. I don’t have projects planned or even anticipated that will use this technique, but it made me feel like James Herriot delivering a calf in a Yorkshire farmyard except the calf is a coat and the momma cow is that same coat and I’m a good bit drier and warmer and better-rested and more indoors, but either way I want more!!

 Bagging was also the first time I used the Yates sew-along. The diagrams just weren’t cutting the mustard for this step, but the photos worked like a charm. It’s a funny loop, then a goofy-looking mess, and then pow, a coat, just like that!

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Okay, fine, there’s pressing and topstitching, too. I found a small block of smooth wood when cleaning my hall closet and pretended like it was a clapper. It worked really well, in fact! I have Julia-Child-style asbestos hands so the lack of a handle didn’t bother me, but watch out for your fingers if you give my found wood technique a try. 😉 There is shine where I pressed too enthusiastically, despite using a presser cloth, but none too serious and mostly on the inside/wrong side.

Oh, and thread chains! I nearly skipped the thread chains because I was getting impatient to reach the finish line, but that’s a false economy. They take ten minutes and are shockingly fun to make. Mine are almost too long because I kept thinking “One more knot! Okay, three more knots! Three more after this one!”. I couldn’t work out how to reach inside the coat and join the sleeves on the side without the bagging opening, so I opened that sleeve lining seam a few inches, too, and did it locally. I don’t mind a little extra hand-sewing to save a lot of head-scratching.

I didn’t do my topstitching in one fell swoop, either. I topstitched the hem with the lining side up so I wouldn’t catch the lining pleat. I sewed the lapels and coat front with the coat side up so they would look as nice as possible. I also skipped one area of topstitching – the back neck curve along the collar. I couldn’t get it to look nice no matter which side I sewed from, and plenty of coats seem to omit that line of stitching.

The pile of this wool covers a lot of sins! I don’t think you can tell that I stopped, started, unpicked, restitched, unpicked, sewed again…

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And for a final touch, I didn’t cover the snaps! Aw heck, they’re black, it’s all gravy. 🙂

New England fall is generous with colors, but New England winter is very sparing. It’s beautiful too, but one year I saw a photo of a budding Australian garden in the middle of my Northern Hemisphere winter and immediately burst into tears, so I thought a very bright lining might be a wise pick to feed my color-hungry eyes.

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My one week review: I’m very, very happy with the finished coat. It’s not perfect, but I feel good in it, it looks reasonably professional, and I’m confident that the guts are well-constructed and hopeful it will last a long time. I’m a little nervous about the pocket openings stretching out, but I don’t want to borrow trouble.

If the narrow size range works for your body, I think the Yates pattern makes for a good first winter coat sew. The directions were clear and supportive. The supply list was not obscure. Also there were about a thousand pattern pieces, which feels like good value, ha!

I’m happy with my additions, mainly the shoulder pads. They definitely move the coat further towards a masculine silhouette – not that far, but farther than I could accomplish without shoulder padding – which works nicely with my winter wardrobe.     

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There’s quite of bit of melting snow on my lapel in some of these photos. I blame attempted whimsy.

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Darn you, whimsy!

Oh, and as mentioned last time, I still owe a breakdown – thanks to the above-average spending of time and money I did this in a more detailed way than usual, and you can see it here! I came in about $10 under budget, but without gift cards/credit I’d actually be about $60 over. The abbreviated version is still below.

If I made another Yates I could save money in a few areas – of course the pattern cost wouldn’t be debited next time, and I’d get something cheaper for my lining fabric, or possibly use kasha so I wouldn’t have to buy underlining separately. If I shopped around for wool a little more or hit a sale, I could probably get the costs under $150. But I’m not going to worry about that. Right now I’m going to focus on protecting my investment and taking good care of this coat, so it can keep me warm for a long time! Even when I hit myself in the face with wet snow!

Oh did I mention I MADE MY COAT?!

Pattern: Grainline Yates coat

Pattern cost: $20.00

Size: 10 bust/sleeves with 1” full bicep adjustment, 14 hip

Supplies: see spreadsheet for details – out-of-pocket cost of supplies, $181.80

Total time: 31.75 hours

Total cost: $201.80

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!

Icarus Flops

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pattern: Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul boilersuit

Pattern cost: $11.50

Size: 41 waist, 46 hip

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

Total time: 12.25 hours

Total cost: $37.73

Winter Knit Shirt Bumper Post!!

It’s a Winter Knit Shirt Bumper Post!!

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If you’re like me, you have a hard time covering your top half in winter. Legs = jeans, almost inevitably (which can get boring, but always works for my day). Torso = some old RTW sweaters, oftener than not, unfortunately. Sometimes I try to get interesting with ~layers!!~ but what I really want are easy-wearing, cozy tops. I prefer sewing with wovens, so my selections are a little meager, but see the collection below!

1 . Wrap Nettie

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This is the Closet Case Nettie, with the innovative wrap variation from Self Assembly Sewing. I botched the hem of the underlap layer and stretched it out (technically it didn’t need hemming at all, but I was worried about the raw edge rolling) so now there’s some slightly odd vertical wrinkles, but it’s less noticeable in person. Especially when the big bow is spruced up! I used the tie pieces from the Seamwork Elmira, just tucked into the side seams. I’m not linking to the Elmira because I dug the style but the drafting seemed very off. Masses of extra fabric in my armpits – I cut it up almost immediately and repurposed it into this bodysuit.

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  1. Deep back Nettie

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On one trip to London I was able to visit The Man Outside Sainsbury’s, as recommended by Did You Make That? and others  – he is my Tir Na Nog, my Shangri-La, my Wabar of men near supermarkets. I miss him every day. He said this knit was silk jersey and my amateurish burn test did not disprove it. This fabric is very soft and the edges didn’t roll at all – really paradise to sew. I worked hard to keep the flower bunches unanatomical and it worked! But…

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The deep back was a mistake! I don’t feel comfortable wearing this to work (my youngest students are 4 and 5 and get a hold of any edge and pull when they want your attention, and I can’t help but feel one tug on the wrong place would leave me looking a little let’s say Minoan), and for winter weekends…

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It’s cold! I still pull it out occasionally. It also peps up my drawer, which is important in a drab season.

  1. High-neck Nettie

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This black bodysuit might be my favorite. It’s a bamboo knit, which is a little thin but has a very firm hold. No way I can push up my sleeves. The high neck is super cozy and goes with everything – every necklace, scarf, layer, bottom. I need another basic black Nettie!

It seems very prim and sober with the color, high neck and long sleeves but I’m also 50% cosplaying as Kim Possible at all times.

  1. Dark navy Nettie

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IT’S FUNCTIONAL!

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SO FUNCTIONAL!

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Scoop neck, high back, navy blue, works great under dungarees. See, this is why not every top needed its own post.

  1. Tabor V-Neck

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This is Sew House Seven’s Tabor V-neck in a spruce sweater knit. I usually resist basic tee patterns but I was seduced (or is it sew-spruced?! HAR HAR HAR) by this view, with the thick overlapping neckband. I got a little puckering where the V meets the body of the shirt, but that’s because I ignored the designer’s direction to sew with the shirt side up, then serged my edges, and then noticed the pucker. I decided to leave it alone, as my experience with art (and popping pimples) has taught me that the more you pick at a minor flaw, the more noticeable it becomes, without usually improving it at all. This will be a leitmotif in sweater knits for me.

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My only issue with this shirt is that the seam of the dropped sleeve has me constantly convinced my bra strap is slipping off!

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The shirt pattern also includes this lovely, neatly finished split hem. I’ll be omitting it in the future though and just sewing the side seam fully closed, since I only wear the shirt tucked it. And here’s why:

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Just don’t love that shape, guys. I do want to make more of these anyway! One of my fifth graders said I looked “elegant” which warmed my heart (she didn’t see this picture, obviously). Thank you sweet monster. ❤

  1. Hemlock tee

I’m having a Grainline moment several years into my sewing career.

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For whatever reason I suddenly sewed up a batch of woven Hemlock tees last year (my first two are detailed here). This is my first knit Grainline Hemlock (free with newsletter sign-up) and I sewed it almost exactly as written except a lot hecking shorter because it was made from the scraps of the Tabor, above! #sewingleftovers

I sewed and serged one shoulder seam before realizing I had placed the shirt body pieces right-side-to-wrong side, and the front would now be permanently wrong side out. Ooor I could unpick.

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Yeah. Front side is wrong side out for keeps. Since this was a scrap buster and I’d already committed to less than perfection I tried something I had never done before –serging my construction seams directly! Usually I seam with a zig-zag on a traditional machine and finish the edges with the serger. I wouldn’t do this for a bodysuit or probably anything with negative ease but it went almost unbelievably quickly for a loose fitting tee like this one!

  1. Thread Theory Camas blouse

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I really like this pattern – it combines the comfort of a knit with the detailing of a woven – except I’d like to figure out a better way to finish those front edges. There seems to be unnecessary bulk there. Also, I’m not sure why that top button seems to be fighting for its life, I’m not exactly Dolly Parton.

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Gathers! I should wear this more, but I find myself avoiding it! Mustard is my Colonel Brandon of colors – I always think well of it, and never want to wear it. Luckily my man looks positively luminous in this color so I’ll put any future mustard on that hot dog.

And there you have it, every knit winter shirt I’ve sewn over the last three years! Knits are such a small percentage of my total output, but in winter they’re what I wear. I’d love to add some really snuggly sweaters too. I’m considering the Ali sweatshirt after seeing Sierra’s makes, but then I have another hurdle (beyond my reluctance to work with knits)…where are people sourcing their snuggliest fabrics?! Let a chilly woman know!

 

Patterns 1-4: Closet Case Nettie

Pattern cost: N/A (I made a summer one first)

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

Supplies: 1. Refashioned Elmira sweater, stash; $1.79, thread, Michael’s; 1 meter jersey (silk?), $2.65, TMOS; $2, snaps, Michael’s; 1 yard Telio Ibiza stretch jersey knit in Black, $8.98, fabric.com; thread and snaps from stash; 1 yard Kaufman Laguna Stretch Cotton Jersey Knit in Navy, $8.55, fabric.com; thread and snaps from stash

Total time: 1. 4.75 hours; 2. 2.75 hours; 3. 3 hours; 4. 2.25 hours

Total cost: 1. $1.79; 2. $4.65; 3. $8.98; 4. $8.55

 

Pattern 5: Sew House Seven Tabor V-neck, version #4

Pattern cost: $14

Size: 10

Supplies: 2 yards Telio Topaz hatchi knit in pine, $15.96, fabric.com; thread from stash

Total time: 4 hours

Total cost: $29.96

 

Pattern 6: Grainline Hemlock tee

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: one-size pattern

Supplies: leftovers from Tabor V-neck

Total time: 1.25 hours

Total cost: $0.00

 

Pattern 7: Thread Theory Camas blouse

Pattern cost: N/A (I made a sleeveless woven one first! Oh personal spending accounting practices, sneaky sneaky)

Size: 8 at bust, graded to 12 at hip

Supplies: 1.5 yards Fabric Merchants Cotton Jersey Solid Yellow Mustard, $8.75, fabric.com; thread and buttons from stash

Total time: Lost in time! I sewed this before I started spreadsheeting my sewing

Total cost: $8.75

Green Monster

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♪Laaast Christmas, I wore this dress

And the very next Christmas, yeah, I still wore this dress♫

See also: my 30th birthday and a murder mystery party. Dear the Internet, meet my Event Dress. Am I overdressed? Probably. Do I mind? Not so much. Do I shave my legs? Certainly not.

Once again I’ve blatantly copied an Allie Jackson make, which is funny, because she’s got such a clear classic/preppy/feminine slant and my style icon might be Gadget Hackwrench from Rescue Rangers (Google with caution, by the way. Image search makes it clear she has, ahem, a fandom). Anyway, I’m getting off track. Years ago Allie J sewed a lush, goddess-like, emerald green dress, and I wanted one too! Only the pattern she made called for 10 yards (!!!) of fabric, and even before taking my relative height & girth into account, that was not in my budget!

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I’m not shy about spending money on quality fabrics for everyday clothes, but for something I would only wear a handful of times, I needed to scale down. Enter M7381, a dress with similar style lines, just a little less extravagance. From 4.5 yards I ended up with this, and enough scrap fabric to make an Ogden cami.

I used a rayon challis in a similar shade of green, and while certainly inexpensive, it wrinkles like heck. See these knife pleats?

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Actually you don’t, because they’re vertical wrinkles I’ve come to terms with. Something about the length and sweep of this dress brings out my latent desire to stand like Madam X, but sewing was not un-fraught, if I remember correctly. This was actually my 30th birthday present to myself nearly two years ago, but its season has come around again! Things I remember clearly from the sewing process: hating cutting the long skirt on my insufficiently long table, figuring out a way to cleanly encase the elastic in back that is now lost in the mists of time, and trying on the dress pre-sleeves and realizing that the raised waist/pleat combination was pure prom.

THANK GOODNESS for the sleeves.

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Like I said, the back has an elastic waist (no other notions needed), and there’s a blouson effect. The bodice is fully lined. Somehow I stretched out the neckline; whether it was sewing on the bias, or the dress’s long periods of time spent on a hanger, what’s done is done.

The surplice neckline and high waist give this dress potential as a maternity/breast-feeding-friendly sew, in some sort of parallel universe where maternity also means cocktail hour. I mean, I am childless. But I’m pretty sure those things go together.

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May we celebrate many more Christmases, dress! Someday I might iron you again! And to you and yours: may you celebrate in the way that makes you happiest, and the New Year only bring you joy!

Pattern: M7381

Pattern cost: $2.50

Size: 10

Supplies: 4.5 yards Telio Viscose Rayon Challis Emerald, $25.11, fabric.com; $3.00, thread, Michael’s

Total time: 11 hours

Total cost: $28.11