Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Plum blossom blouse

Lately I've been really into stripes and solids, but this print was just irresistible. As soon as the first taste of spring hit, I pulled it out and set to work.


Here is a closeup of the print of plum or apple blossoms, with a hand drawn pen-and-ink and watercolor look. It was from emmaonesock, printed on a light and floaty cotton voile.


I made a Liesl Classic shirt, with my usual modifications... no bust dart, extra ease.


I did tweak the sleeves for a slightly romantic vibe. I added lots of extra ease by slashing and spreading, then gathered it in with pleats at the binding. I left off the cuff and tower placket and added a bias bound sleeve placket and bias bound the sleeve with a loop for the button closure. 


The buttons are mother of pearl buttons that I dropped in some intense pink dye when I was dying fabric awhile ago. They might have a very slight pink tint... or that might just be my imagination!



The other change I always make with the Liesl shirt is to round the curve of the hem at the side seam so that I can bind it with one continuous piece of bias binding. I find this the easiest and cleanest way to hem my shirts.

A floral woven shirt is actually a first in my wardrobe. Can't wait for the plum trees to bloom so that I can camouflage myself in a tree ;).

Not to mention the fact that shirts are about all one gets to show off in the many zoom meetings that now comprise my life. A new one is a fun change.

My daughter broke her arm this weekend! She's a trooper... and it is probably the most exciting thing that has happened to her since the schools closed.






Sunday, March 29, 2020

My first hand knit sweater: Snoqualmie by Michele Wang

It's been a couple weeks since I've written a post... and the whole world has changed. It's pretty rare that anything other than being very busy will affect my desire to sew, but when the world started turning upside down, all I wanted to do was knit and watch Next in Fashion. 

Also contributing to my knitting binge was the sudden cancellation of the family ski trip I had been planning for months. It was looking like a go, I had even talked to people at the ski lodge to book lessons and they had been sure they would be open... and then everything very suddenly shut down. Therefore, lots of time to knit. 


So, I finished my first ever sweater! You can also find me on Ravelry here for all the knitty details.

This is the Snoqualmie by Michele Wang for Brooklyn Tweed. Quite honestly I never would have considered such a project if it wasn't for Heather Lou's Snoqualmie knit along. I thought cables would be really difficult and I'm not a great knitter, but Heather is very convincing. Of course the sew along was from 2016 but it stuck in my head and when I was looking for a new project this summer, I decided to go for it.

I cast on this summer during our annual camping trip to Cape Cod last July. I very unimaginatively chose to use the exact yarn and colorway that the sample was made in. The sample just looks so perfect to me that I couldn't conceive of another variation.



I loved working with Brooklyn Tweed's Quarry. I looked long and hard for a substitute, but I couldn't find anything like it, anywhere. I also was influenced by comments on how the lightness of the yarn was key to keeping the oversize cable design from being too heavy. So I just relented and got Quarry, direct from Brooklyn Tweed. It is not like any other yarn I've worked with and I love the rustic quality and the light squishyness of it. It has a wooly feel and isn't super soft like some other yarns, but is surprisingly non-scratchy. I read all of the complaints about how easily it breaks, but I'm not a tight knitter and I hand wound all of my balls so I didn't have any of those problems.

I really enjoyed cabling. I used a cable needle for most of this sweater, although there was a point where I lost the cable needle and I had to try cabling without a cable needle for awhile, and that was okay. However I preferred working with the cable needle so I got another one. One of the things I love about cabling is that the sweater becomes very visual, and I could tell right away if I made a mistake or lost count. One thing that has driven me sort of nuts with top down knits is keeping track of all the stitches, and I hate counting! I also love tonal patterns and texture, so cabling was really satisfying to my eye.



The other thing that really surprised me is that I loved knitting a sweater in pieces. Top down seems to be all the rage, but the shape of the sweater is difficult for me to conceive as I am working on it and I'm never sure whether I'm doing it right. Also at a certain point they get huge and you end up carrying around a whole sweater everywhere you bring your knitting. Then you are knitting endless rows for the body of the sweater and figuring out where you dropped that stitch is nearly impossible and that's when I tend to lose interest and stuff the project in the back of a drawer somewhere.

However, knitting the pieces gave me more manageable goals-- finish a front, YAY, etc. Also, for someone who has sewn many cardigans on a sewing machine, the pattern pieces made visual sense to me. I've read about knitters knitting all the pieces and then not wanting to sew them together, but I didn't mind that part at all, it was sort of exciting to see them all come together.



As a total newbie to this kind of knitting, I did have some setbacks. When making the back and still sort of learning the pattern, I ended up ripping rows at a time and re-knitting. I was also tricked by the instruction to knit until the armhole was a certain length-- I figured that one would measure the armhole on the curve with a tape measure, because one sometimes does this in sewing to fit a sleeve to an armhole. Apparently that was not what was meant, but I didn't figure out why it looked so strange until I went to block it and pulled out the sheet with the measurements... it seems that one was meant to measure the armhole by the length of the vertical rise. Well, why didn't they just say that? I guess real knitters understand this kind of instruction. So I ripped back and added the requisite length to the armhole, and all was well.

I also had a very difficult time making the fronts match. I finished the left front on our trip, and then set down the project for a few months, and when I came back to it during the holidays, my gauge was totally different. I knit the right front, ripped, and knit it again, and it still didn't match. So then I ripped the better part of the left front and knit that again, and it wasn't perfect, but it was much closer.


After that fiasco with the fronts, I decided to knit the sleeves at the same time on a long cable. This worked beautifully for me... sort of cumbersome, but much better for consistency. Next time I'll probably try knitting the fronts at the same time too, because apparently I'm a very inconsistent knitter.

The pattern is really thoughtful, I enjoyed following it. I really appreciated the glossary of terms and descriptions of how to do specific techniques. The tubular cast on is gorgeous and so professional looking. This was one area where I was unable to interpret the pattern instructions, but this video by Very Pink was super helpful. I also thought the selvage edge and the instructions on casting off for cables to be very helpful in providing a nice finish. I loved the buttonhole instructions, very cool. The one thing I didn't totally love was the way the collar is attached such that the join is visible on the inside when you wear the cardigan open. I guess the idea is that it is a buttoned cardigan and that edge is supposed to be on the inside. I actually have been looking at the Rowe by Michele Wang and the collar on that one is knit double width, folded, and stitched down to hide the seam. However with a bulky yarn like Quarry that wouldn't work so well, so perhaps this is the best solution afterall.

The wooden buttons are from Etsy, Supplies and Sundries in Iowa, they came super fast and they were perfect.



The fit is quite roomy! It isn't meant to be a fitted sweater, and I was totally going for the idea of a big, cozy, easy fit. Therefore I love it! I do worry that it will stretch out over time though... and since I'm such a loose knitter, I feel that there is rather a lot of danger of that. If I was to make this again, I might size down one size.

I am super stoked to have finished this in less than a year, and in time to wear it on chilly spring mornings. I'm wearing it now!

Stay well everyone!

Monday, March 9, 2020

Stretch Wool Persephone Pants

These are my first ever lined wool slacks, and I'm in love! The drape is gorgeous, the texture is sophisticated, and no wrinkling. Why has it taken me so long?


One reason is that I haven't been sure what kind of fabric I should use for a wool pant. But when I saw these by Tipstitched posting for Fabric Mart, I was instantly in love. It is a dark navy medium wool suiting with 5% lycra. The fabric was 70% off... this was a case of effective marketing in action, because I instantly bought 2 yards, and I've never bought anything from Fabric Mart before. My order came quickly and they sent a very generous cut, almost 4 yards, with a note saying that I had gotten extra because it was the end of the roll. After making these pants, I think I still have enough to make another pair.

I decided to take the risk and prewash, since I will almost certainly wash at home. I also figured the lycra mixed in would help prevent felting. However I dumped too much wool wash in, and it wasn't the kind you can leave in, so I ended up running multiple rinse cycles. Then I threw all caution to the wind and tossed it in the dryer to dry. After all of that, it shrank about 18 inches in length. I've since bought some Euclan (no rinse wool wash) and I never dry me-mades in the dryer, so I hope not to shrink it further after sewing!



I was pretty sure that a lining would be preferable for me, since I love wool but the feel of it rubbing between my legs is not ideal for me. It's a stretch wool, so I wanted a stretch lining, but all of the stretch woven linings I could find were poly and I don't like poly next to my skin either. After some searching I settled on a stretch rayon challis from Fabric.com.



I used my Persephone Pant pattern that is modified for stretch (ie, a size down from measurements) and with a fly extension for a zip fly that I used for my Stretch Denim Persephone pants.

None of the pants patterns that I regularly use have instructions for lining, so I sort of just winged it. I just cut another set of the same pieces from my lining, minus the fly extensions. I sewed them separately from the wool outer fabric, then basted them in place at the waistband and the fly, thinking they lining would end up being tacked down somehow in all of the sewing of the fly. (I was wrong, btw!)



What should have been a simple and straight forward zip fly that I've sewn at least 5 times turned into a mess of unpicking. I got cocky and didn't follow the Ginger Jeans instructions, thinking I knew the steps. Well, it finally got all sorted out with a functioning zipper, but I can't say it's the prettiest fly I've ever sewn.

After the fly was sewn, I realized the lining was still not firmly connected. In the future I think I should add the fly extensions to the lining, so that they would get properly attached in sewing the fly. But as a stop gap measure, I folded the raw edge under and sewed the lining to the pant at the folds of the fly. Not the most elegant solution, but on a dark navy pant, the extra stitching doesn't show, and on the inside it is hidden by the fly.

I used the navy wool for the back piece of the pocket, and the white lining for the front piece/pocket facing. It was a bit of a trick trying to keep the white lining of the pocket facing from showing when I sewed the waistband, it required sewing about 1/8 of an inch over the edge of the pocket and then pulling the top edge of the pocket out of the way. It is however nice that the pockets end up enclosed inside the lining.

The waistband is interfaced with medium weight fusible cut in the maximum stretch direction. The waistband facing is made from the rayon challis lining fabric, interfaced with light weight knit interfacing to give it a little more body and durability.

The lining is shorter and hemmed with a simple double turn of the fabric. The wool is hemmed with a deep 2.25 inch hem done with a machine blind hem stitch.


I'm glad I went through the extra effort of lining, the pants feel smooth and soft inside. I also think the lining helps smooth out some of the extra bumps and lumps, and it makes the wool hang so nicely. 

I'm loving these pants! The stretch makes them so comfortable. I'm wearing them for the most spring-y day yet this March, but there are some cold days yet to come and I think they'll be gorgeous with my gray trench coat

Have you made lined pants? What method do you use?


Monday, March 2, 2020

Pietra gray Pietra pants from Closet Case Patterns, with modifications

Finally complete-- my Pietra Pants! As y'all probably know, I'm a huge fan of Closet Case Patterns, but these were a bit of a struggle for me. 

I have yet to meet an elastic waist pant that I like the look of, I've sewn up several that have ended up in the pajama drawer. But after seeing so many happy bloggers and instagrammers showing off elastic waist bums that looked just fine, I thought that perhaps Closet Case had perhaps worked some magic...



The pattern, as usual, was a pleasure to sew. Since I know Closet Case patterns tend to fit me right out of the envelope, I sewed these up without a muslin, to my measurements. My fabric was a stone gray (pietra!) medium-heavy weight linen from Fabrics-store.com. They came together quickly, with the neat construction typical of Closet Case, facilitated by their fantastic instructions.

The fit was perfect, as usual. The front view was gorgeous, love those pockets!

However, when I spun in front of the mirror, I was instantly horrified by the back view. The baggy butt was there, in all its fabric glory. Most likely the effect was intensified by my fabric choice... light gray moderately heavy linen (7 oz) certainly does not have a flattering gather. The thought of elephant skin jumped into my head, and would not leave. The pants got wadded up and buried in the bottom of my project bin.

I thought about taking a photo for before and after purposes, but could not muster the energy to wrangle a rear end selfie. And dear audience, no matter how much you might say that the rear view was really not that bad, the image of a pachyderm was not going to be easily dislodged.

After working my way through several other projects, glimpses of gray started taunting me, and this weekend I finally hauled the dreaded baggy butt pant out of the bin and went to work. Closet Case actually does have a tutorial addressing both the addition of a zipper and the removal of excess ease (on the side of the pant) for certain fabrics that don't play well with gathering, and I took these to heart and went even further in my hack-job modifications.

I unpicked the entire back of the pant, and took (very approximately) 1 inch out of each back side seam, 2 inches out of the center back, and made 1 inch darts over each buttock. I shortened the back waistband to fit the new dimensions of the rear of the pant. I added a side seam invisible zip. It was still was a little loose... so I added the elastic back into the rear waistband.

And the result...



I love the result, for me it is a good compromise between a bit of comfort ease in the back and a tidy rear end that I'm not going to be constantly hiding under untucked shirts and tunics. 


Now that my difficulties are behind me 😉, I love the taper of the leg and the huge front pockets. I might need more of these, especially with spring rolling around. I think if I try to sew these again, I might lay out the rear panel of the Pietra over the Jenny trouser pattern to see a hybrid of some sort might work. 




So happy to finally get my Pietra fix. These are on their way to become a favorite in my wardrobe (with modifications!)

Readers, how do you feel about elastic waist pants? I love the look of some of the RTW elastic waist pants out there, ES Florence pants come to mind, but I have no idea if I'd like wearing them. Do you like the look, or do you tolerate them for the comfort factor? 

Monday, February 10, 2020

Stretch Persephone Jeans, with a little help from Ginger

It's taken me awhile to warm to the high-waisted silhouette. My body and mind are adjusting, as slow as ever, to the inevitable creep of fashion. 


The Persephone by Anna Allen is the most high-waisted silhouette in my pattern library. My first pair, made over a year ago in linen, languished because they would stretch out during the course of a day and end up sagging. I fixed that recently with a length of buttonhole elastic, and now that they stay up, I love wearing them. So I decided to make another pair.



This pair is made in Cone Mills 12 oz S-gene denim. Or at least, that's what I think it is... I got it as part of a kit back when Closet Case Patterns was selling Cone Mill kits, which was a long time ago! The kit came with 9 oz and a 12 oz jeans-sized pre cut pieces, and I used the 9 oz and have reordered it multiple times. But the 12 oz has just sat in my stash, until now. Very satisfying to reclaim this stash space!



The Persephone pants pattern calls for non-stretch, and has a note that testers have used up to 5% stretch. If I'm not mistaken, Cone Mills denim usually is said to have at least 10% stretch. I thought it might work just fine for me. I've never been one for non-stretch pants... I have no tolerance for things that squish my midsection, they make me cranky. And, it worked for isewthereforeiam, and I LOVE everything she makes, so I thought it might work for me too. 



I made them one size smaller than my non-stretch linen pants. If I recall correctly, that would be a 12 graded to between a 14 and 16 at the waist. Then I sewed them up in an order that allowed the most efficient path towards fitting: Sew the inseam on each pant leg, then baste the crotch seam and back darts. Gotta love pants with no side seam! Then, try on, which allowed me to determine that an extra 3 inches removed from the waist would be ideal. I distributed that 3 inches across 2 darts and the back seam, removing 1 inch at each location. Re-tryon-- perfect!



As before, I substituted the Ginger Jeans zip fly for the button fly. I just don't see the point of a hidden button fly, somebody enlighten me on why I should go through the trouble? To use the Ginger Jeans zip fly, all that is needed is to add the fly extension onto both sides when cutting (I just held up my ginger jeans pattern to the Persephone and traced it on, extending for the longer waist of the Persephone). I used the fly extension piece from the Ginger Jeans, also lengthened. Then I followed the trusty Ginger Jeans sew along that never lets me down. 



Since I had my Ginger Jeans pattern out already, I went with the Ginger Jeans curved waistband. I'm not sure it matters, but anything that might help keep my pants up is worthwhile in my book. I cut it in the stretchy direction of the Cone Mills denim, and faced it with quilting cotton. I also added my favorite medium weight interfacing. This interfacing is mildly stretchy in one direction, and I cut the waistband interfacing in the stretchy direction which I then fused to the Cone Mills. 

When it came time to add the waistband, I basted it in first. Sometimes I find that tugging slightly on the waistband helps the fit of the jeans and keeps the waistband on a stretch jean from bagging out... not so here, my first basted version messed up all of the good fit previously obtained. So I ripped it off and tried again with no attempt at easing any of the waist in... and the fit was perfect. 

I went with the cute and barely useful pockets that come with the Persephone. I'm not in love with them, but having a pocket is better than no pocket, and it do love the minimalism of the look. They also sew up very quickly, with minimum fuss!



I hemmed them up 4 inches for a fashionably cropped look. I'm 5'4" and I think Anna Allen drafts for 5'7", so I guess I should have thought about using the shorten lines. 

All in all I think this might have been the quickest pair of pants I've ever made. I cut them out one weekend morning in about an hour, and sewed them up over the course of another weekend day, and with lots of interruptions for kids, housework, napping, etc, I still managed to finish. 

I loving them so far. Might even require the creation of truly cropped top... that would also be a first for me... 


Wearing them today with my plaid long sleeve Cielo top, Black linen Wiksten Haori, and a silk-wool black checkered scarf (just a square of fabric with fringed edges).







Friday, February 7, 2020

Classic Comfy Overalls: Cone Mills Denim S-Gene Jenny Overalls

I've been planning to make some basic denim Jenny Overalls since I made my first pair. Recently I came across the 3 yards of Cone Mills denim I'd bought for this purpose, and started washing it up. 


I got it cut and started sewing, then life happened. It languished in piles around my sewing machine, taunting me. I'd sneak in a little sew here and there, and finally, 3 weeks later, they were done!


I used Cone Mills S-Gene Denim, probably 9 oz. This is a pattern that calls for non-stretch, but I was going for comfort, so I figured it would be fine. I did end up taking in the side seams a bit more than I would have for a non-stretch.

I also narrowed the legs, using Heather's tutorial for a tapered leg Jenny, and also her tutorial for side seam buttons, since I'm sort of obsessed with this look.

I used these buckles and these buttons, the ones with the tiny stars in a circle, both in antique brass finish.



The topstitching and bar tacks are done with Mara 70 thread in color 448. I think this tip originally came from Lladybird. It sort of saved me since my machine doesn't much care for topstitching thread that is any thicker than this. When I first started making jeans I bought Mara 30 in a bunch of colors but it is a battle to use it, and forget about trying to sew a buttonhole with it. 


Since I was using stretch denim, I decided to do a front pocket stay, such as the one on Ginger Jeans. I drafted the pieces using the Jenny pattern, and sewed them up in a cute clouds quilting cotton that I picked up on super sale at Hobby Lobby. 


I also made the bib facing out of my cute cloud cotton! The inside waistband is also this quilting cotton, although I didn't get any pics of it.




This is the first time I followed the directions for the straps and just turned over the edges .25 twice. I thought it would be fine with denim, but they are floppier than I'd like. Next time I'll go back to cutting double the strap pieces and sewing them together as a faced strap, it makes them much more sturdy and they hold their shape better.


They are super comfy, the denim is soft on the inside and the stretch makes movement effortless. I imagine they'll be a favorite for weekend tasks like gardening and housework and hanging with the kids. I'll probably also wear them to work on occasion, for more casual days, although I think they'd also make a statement with a pair of shiny boots and a great blazer. 


Bonus pictures of our cat Dala, preening and dozing on our Eames chair (look alike).

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Wool Plaid Tessuti Yuki as a winter jumper


I've been thinking for awhile about making a wool jumper over/dress. I've been wearing my linen charlie caftan in this capacity, and I think it's super cute over leggings and a long sleeve top, but it would be ideal to have the warmth of a wool version.

Then Thornberry posted her Yuki dress, and it occurred to me that this is a very similar design, only with a cozy cowl. It's funny, she talked about the pattern being wintery but then make a super colorful summery Yuki.

Then I came across this INCREDIBLE wool fabric at Homespun, just the perfect weight and drape for a dress, cozy soft, and with a very cool irregular plaid/houndstooth pattern. I've sort of been looking forever for just the right fabric, and I can't believe it was in the back corner of my local fabric shop. The Yuki made even more sense with this fabric, as I'm not sure what I would have done with the inset.


A close up of the fabric, showing its tiny houndstooths in the plaid design. 


It's been awhile since I tackled a Tessuti pattern. It had all of the usual hallmarks, hand drawn, quirky construction, etc. The taping together went rather quickly, since there are only two main pattern pieces. The pattern pieces fit side by side on my 60 inch fabric, which was a relief, since it made matching the plaid from front to back a breeze.


The pocket construction was the usual Tessuti method, which is very cool and causes the pockets to stay to the front better than a traditional inseam pocket. However the suggested seam finish is serging and I couldn't get my brain around how I would french seam this pocket design, so I had to go with a completely serged interior. Which is totally fine, but I'm spoiled by all of my french seamed and flat felled garments that look as pretty inside as out. I'll get over it, I'm sure.


The armhole finish, however, was both fussy and sort of unsatisfactory. The directions have you turn under the armhole twice and stitch down, then there is this complicated dance to get it all to lay flat with the side seam. They seem to know how fussy this all is, as they suggest basting it first... Well it all sort of worked out fine even though I did not baste, but the finish isn't as smooth as I feel it could be, since a turned over edge just isn't as nice as other methods. It seems to me there is probably a way to do this with bias or a narrow facing, and I'll probably give that a go if I make another Yuki.


The one bit that was fun and unexpected is the way the drawstring hole is formed. I don't know how to describe it, but it is super clever and easy. The drawstring I used is actually a length of rayon seam finish which was the only black finished string-like thing I had on hand. The pattern suggests making a tube and turning it, but I didn't relish doing that with my wool. I might at some point replace this string with something a bit nicer... a turned piece of black linen or even black twill tape would probably be ideal.


Cute and different, right? I'm wearing it here with a silk jersey tee and self-drafted black leggings. I think I will love wearing this on snowy days!

Three Cielo tops and a Persphone Pant

I've been admiring all of the boxy tees that seem to have taken the sewing world by storm lately. Several of the ones I most admired only come in larger bust sizes-- for example the Torrens Top really caught my eye, but alas, I'm several inches below the smallest bust measurement. 

There are of course dozens of other boxy tops out there, and as I was searching through them, it occurred to me that I might already have a perfectly suitable pattern: the Cielo top by Closet Case Patterns. Somehow the dress version took precedence in my mind, and I had forgotten there was also a shirt version. 


There was one small catch... I really wanted a long sleeve top. While the fancy "statement" sleeve on the Cielo is lovely, I really was looking for a more basic sleeve. So I lengthened the short sleeve into a long sleeve using a tutorial from Grainline on lengthening the sleeve of the scout tee.

This is what my sleeve pattern looked like. I took my best guess at a 3/4 sleeve legnth by measuring my arm, and drafted a wide hem or cut-on cuff, depending how I folded it. 


The first one I made was the burgandy top, which sewn from a light weight wool-cotton blend fabric I found at Homespun Trumansburg, my favorite local fabric shop. I just love the soft wooliness of it, it is so light and warm.



I added about 4 inches to the longest shirt length on the pattern, then made a deep hem (1.5 -2 inches?). For me, this make sit long enough that I can wear it out or tuck it in to a mid-high waisted pant.


I made the 14 shoulders, then graded out to the largest hip size, which is a size larger than my measurements... I wanted it to have a little extra ease around the belly and hips. 


The pants in these pics are white bull-denim Ginger jeans that are my favorite jeans right now.



The second is made from Atelier Brunette viscose crepe in Chestnut from Imaginegnats. I got the end of this roll, sorry! This fabric feels like a substantial silk crepe, but without the static. The drape is divine!


The pants are black linen Persephone pants (by Anna Allen). I made these over a year ago, but they are just now becoming one of my favorites. I made them from a non-stretch linen, but I find that they stretch out considerably over the course of a day, and by the end of the day they'd be down on my hips.

I recently solved this by adding buttonhole elastic to the back waistband. When they start to fall down halfway through the day, I can tighten in the elastic and then they stay up where they're supposed to. Now they are a go-to pant for me, and I want to make more!


The width of the neckline on the Cielo tends to show my bra straps, since I tend to wear cross back bras. I think that to narrow the neckline I'd have to add a closure, and I'm not sure I'm into that right now.


And finally, plaid. I haven't been a plaid person... but now I sort of can't get enough. I saw this fabric at Homespun when I bought the burgandy wool, and I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I went back for it.


I don't usually pick cottons, but this one is so soft, almost brushed like a very lightweight flannel.


The shoulder yokes on the back are cut on the bias, for fun and to avoid matching!



These tees have added some new life to my wardrobe, they are great under blazers and cardigans that I haven't worn for years. They've been the perfect project for a quick and satisfying sew in between the demands of work and home life.