Monday, December 30, 2019

Red Linen Wiksten Haori (formerly Wiksten Kimono)

I made a Wiksten Haori in red linen, and it has been the hot item this holiday!

This pattern is simple, but a lovely shape that works for many people. I made this one with no lining in a heavy red linen from my stash, a piece that I've had for many years. It has proven to be a bit too heavy for a dress, but was perfect for this pattern. It is wonderfully smooth and drapey with an attractive rustic weave.

I made it without a lining, instead I faux flat felled all of the seams, except the arm seams which were difficult to flat fell, so I french seamed them. I made a facing for the sleeves so that I could turn them up without the seams showing. I used my custom pockets, which are a curved slant that goes from the collar to the side seam in one clean sweep.

This was all made in a huge rush in time for a Fiddle Orchestra concert where we were instructed to wear red. Previously the only thing red in my wardrobe was underwear ;).

I love the way this turned out, and it has proven to be a wonderful item to have in my wardrobe for the holidays-- just throw it on over any other item and one can instantly assume that I have a healthy holiday spirit.

More photos...

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Red Ombre Plaid Tessuti Oslo Coat

I've made a new coat!

And it is a cozy, wooly, wintery coat!

It's been awhile since I've made a coat. Last year I was crushing on all of the amazing versions of the Papercut Sapporo coat on instagram, and I bought a piece of wool to make it. Online purchase, and it was a lovely gray coating, but it was drapy-er than I thought would be ideal for the Sapporo coat. I was also having second thoughts on the Sapporo because it really isn't such a practical coat for truly cold climates since it has no front closure and cropped sleeves, so what I would be making would be a late fall-early spring coat, and the wardrobe gap I was filling was for a truly warm coat. I was also noticing how many of the Sapporo coats that I admired required quite a bit of finagling of the pattern, and then this review came out.

I still think I'll still sew the Sapporo coat sometime in the near future since it is such a unique pattern and I'm  but for my winter coat needs, I went looking for another pattern. I was looking for something classic and a bit boxy, and decided on the Oslo coat by Tessuti. There are some incredible versions of this one out in the blogosphere by some of my favorite bloggers, including amazing versions by Diary of a Chainstitcher, Fifty two Fancies, Jasika Nicole, and of course the amazing Heather of Closet Case files.

The plan was coming together for some cozy holiday sewing over the Thanksgiving break. However, when I pulled out my stashed gray coating, it didn't seem right for this project either. So I make a trip to my favorite local fabric shop, Homespun, and this ombre plaid coating was love at first sight. It was a pretty heavy wool, so I thought it would work well to make a structured, super-warm coat. I also picked up a lining that was an interesting fabric, smooth rayon sort of like a bemberg on one side and cotton on the other.

I took a cue from Heather and went up a size because I was planning on some serious underlining and interlining and I wanted room to be able to wear a thick sweater or down liner, and I increased the seam allowances to 1-inch on the side seams and sleeves to allow on-the-fly fitting. I ended up using some of that extra seam allowance to add some width to the upper sleeve because I felt that my very significant biceps needed a bit more ease for layering.

I bought about 1/2 a yard extra for plaid matching, but perhaps I should have bought more, especially after adding extra to the seam allowances. I just barely managed to cut it all out, and I ended up having to piece together one of the facings. However, in the end I am very happy with my plaid matching, it is so satisfying!

The one major change that I made was to raise the pockets a whole 6 inches. Every review I've read of this coat talks about how low the pockets are. I determined the pocket height by draping the pinned together coat pieces around me and imagining a good pocket location. The pockets are truly humongous, and this is a feature I love in the finished coat after raising them to a point where I can easily touch the bottom of the pocket when wearing the coat. There has been many a coat and dress where I've placed the pocket too low and not being able to touch the bottom of your pockets is seriously annoying!

One of the goals for this coat was to make a TRULY WARM winter coat. I happened to be reading this post by Fehr trade while making the coat, which really nailed home the wind-blocking properties of flannel interlining, so I fully interlined the sleeves and upper body with flannel that I had in my stash. I really loved Jasika Nicole's idea of a quilted lining, so I borrowed her idea. I used Dream Wool and the crib size was just enough for my coat.

I added hanging chain, and one of my dwindling supply of tags.

I was almost too lazy, but at the last minute I found the energy to add an interior zipper pocket. I made it HUGE, it can easily swallow my big credit card wallet.

Generally the directions were quite good. However I had a small beef with the understitching instructions for the collar. Shouldn't one switch the side of the understitching at the break, the point at which the collar turns? Otherwise the seam would show on either the collar or the bottom of the coat. I followed the directions blindly at first, but it bothered me so much that I unpicked my understitching and redid it, clipping the seam at the break and switching the understitching. 

This wool required serious use of steam and a clapper. The clapper wasn't on hand for the final press for these photos, and I ended up using a handy block of wood which worked just about as well as my fancy clapper.

I didn't add the buttonhole until just before I sewed in the lining, so that I could customize the location. It was a bit of a pain making a bound buttonhole with the coat already sewn, but not impossible, and it beats having the buttonhole in the wrong location. The button is an interesting dark green button from my friend Susie's grandmother's collection.

I was lazy and did not add the interior button. In some photos the coat does not lay as well as it could... not sure if I'm motivated to go back and add it though.

Towards the end of the project I was just going on autopilot, so I finished that tricky area where the bottom of the front facing meets the lining with a bit of hand sewing like I usually do. However in retrospect it looks like they had an interesting method for getting a nice finish, so I wish I had paid more attention to the directions.

I love the notch where there collar meets the shoulder, it adds a subtle detail to an otherwise simple design.

So, after finishing it up, I have to say... this coat is heavy! And sort of huge. However, it is toasty warm. It isn't the coat I reach for every day, but on cold days it is the coat I reach for when I know I'll be standing around it in. It is the perfect coat for keeping my daughter company on dark cold mornings as she waits for her school bus. It's definitely the coat I reach for on below-freezing snowy mornings when I know I have to be at work despite the conditions. However I wore it on a day I was out Christmas shopping and I was sweating in the stores!

A few more photos...

So the one thing I've thought about is adding an inner cuff to the sleeve. I probably should have tapered the sleeve a bit more, because as it is it lets in a bit of a draft.

I would love to make this pattern again in the future, perhaps with a lighter, drapier wool, not sizing up, which I think would make a very classy, versatile coat.

Have you made a warm coat? How did you add warmth to your coat?

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Blue striped linen swing-y shirt dress

I just can't get enough of shirt dresses this fall. They are all variations based on the Kalle Shirt Dress pattern. 

The inspiration for this one was the Ace and Jig.

I would LOOOVE to get some gorgeous hand-loomed textiles like the ones Ace and Jig are famous for... but the best I could come up with was this lovely stripe from It is a soft, smooth yarn-dye linen, and the stripes are actually blue and black but the overall effect is a wide stripe. 

One of the things I love about the inspiration dress is how full and swing-y it is. I started with the Kalle shirt dress pattern, but I made quite a few changes. 

I added about 3 inches to each of the fronts to create pleats, and added an extra inch or so to the pleats in the back. I also added an inch or two to the back band, and extra to the side panels. I extended the back yoke 1.5 inches so that it would wrap around to the front, and removed a corresponding 1.5 inches from the front panels. 

I decided to stick with the inspiration and use a non-kimono sleeve, so I pulled out my Liesl Classic Shirt and borrowed the armhole and sleeve. I took out all of the taper to the sleeve and made it 3/4 length, cut on the cross grain so that the stripe would be horizontal. I finished it with a wide hem. 

To made the side panels made the front 3 inches narrower, and did the same to the back. I used those 6 inches to make the side panels, adding seam allowances and cutting on the cross grain. I made side seam pockets in the seam between the front panel and the side panel. 

I made the Kalle hidden button placket. The inspiration has a popover placket, but I like the versatility of the full placket... maybe I'll wear it as a duster jacket sometimes. 

The length of the dress was determined by the amount of fabric I had... with my 3 yards, this is the maximum length that I could manage. I went with a totally straight hem, finished with bias tape. The inspiration dress is longer, but I think this length will get more wear in my wardrobe.  

The inside is completely finished with french seams. 

The "proper" way to make all of these changes to the pattern would be to trace them out and make new pattern pieces. However, lately I've taken to making changes right on the fabric while cutting, folding the pattern pieces or measuring and marking on the fabric with tailors' chalk. It is quicker and allows me to be spontaneous. 

Of course sometimes I make mistakes, but most mistakes can be fixed with an extra seam or two. For example, I totally forgot I wanted to add a pleat to the front of the dress when I was cutting the front panels. So I cut the front panels vertically where I wanted the pleat to be, and added in a 3 inch strip of fabric. I french seamed both sides of the added strips. You can hardly tell the pleats are seamed in, stripes are so forgiving. 

With all this ease, I definitely needed a belt. I cut 3 inch wide bias strips from my scraps and seamed them together until I had enough for a belt. I folded the long bias strip the long way, wrong sides together, sewed a narrow seam, then turned the tube. I finished the ends by tucking them in and sewing, then tied a little knot just for fun. 

It is swishy and fun to wear! I think it will end up in high rotation for as long as my shirt-dress obsession continues. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

What Workout Dreams are Made Of, or the Jalie Anne-Marie 3463

I decided this summer that the workout top situation was becoming sort of desperate. My stash of pre-sewing workout wear had been quite large, but it's been over 10 years since I stopped buying clothes, and even the best of workout wear wears out.

I primarily run and bike, so the natural choice seemed to be the Fehr Trade XYT which is marketed as a running and biking style top. I gave this a try about three years ago. I blogged it, and it's funny that I labeled that Fehr Trade XYT top a success... because making it was such a traumatic experience that I did not attempt any workout tops for another 3 years.

The fit was all wrong, and trying to get a binding that looked like my favorite RTW self-fabric bound tops was unpleasantly challenging with only a standard sewing machine. I think fold-over elastic is suggested, but I don't like the look or feel of FOE. I did end up making it work with a ton of unpicking and fussing, but the resulting top has turned out to be rather annoying to wear... the built in bra is soooo tight, even after adjusting to add additional room, that it is a struggle to get in and out of, so it sits sadly in the back of my drawer.

When I went looking for a new workout top to try, I ended up considering the Jalie Anne-Marie. It wasn't immediately apparent that this would be a good style for me, as it appears at first glance to be primarily a tennis top/skirt. But that third view, without the cutesy skirt elements, looked like it had possibilities. There were also some very promising reviews, so I decided to give it a try.

I rashly jumped in with no muslin, grading between sizes as indicated by my measurements. Whatever the pattern, I pretty much always need to go up a size or two for my hips, and take out any waist shaping, and I did that here. I also added a few inches in length, since I truly detest workout tops that don't have plentiful coverage in the midriff area. I think I also joined the two side panel pieces... I didn't need that extra bit of color blocking, and one less seam to sew.

The fit is PERFECT. Just the right amount of ease without being baggy. The neckline is modest but still attractive. The built in sports bra is also just right. Just the right amount of support for cycling and gym workouts, without being a struggle to get off afterward. For the first couple of times I ran in these tops, I wore a sports bra underneath, but then one time I forgot and I didn't miss it at all. So for me, it's also fine support for running.

The best part is the clever finishing techniques. Rather than binding, this top uses elastic sewn to the inside seam allowance. The length of the elastic is indicated by a chart, like Jalie bathing suit patterns. Brilliant! Just the right amount of support, and no fussing with messy bindings. Also, it's super smooth, so no worry about chafing. In typical Jalie style, the instructions are terse but complete and well thought out.

The built in bra is finished by wrapping the fabric around regular elastic, so no special notions needed. Although I did have plush backed 1-inch elastic, so I used that in the botanical bra top.

The blue color-blocked top uses the supposed Lululemon fabric that Peak Fabric sells. It is lovely stuff, I'm still working through a huge order I placed years ago. The botanical print is from Zenith and Quasar. The bra top in the blue one is made with self-fabric, and the bra top and lining on the botanical top is white mesh. The one lined with mesh is noticeably lighter, I tend to wear that on super hot days.

And I can't tell you how much I love that pocket. Simple to sew, and fits the design beautifully. Huge enough to stuff your windbreaker into! I might devise a second pocket though... I typically take my phone and my keys, and it is nice to have two pockets so they don't jingle against each other.

The leggings are the Helen's Closet Avery Leggings. They aren't the sportiest, but the fit is so good on my body. Someday soon I might hack them to have sporty style lines or pockets. The fabric is Pinecrest Supplex either from Zenith and Quasar (listed there as "heavyweight supplex") or

These two tops are in constant rotation ever since I made them this summer. I really need to make a couple more!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Kaufman Brooklyn Plaid Flannel Kalle Shirt Dress

As soon as the weather turned chilly here, all I could think about was the cozy piece of Kaufman flannel that I knew was nestled in my stash pile. The project I had already cut out got pushed back onto the wait pile as that flannel performed a leap to the front of my sewing queue.

Out came the Kalle Dress from Closet Case Patterns and away we went!

This is an almost true to pattern Kalle. Well.. just a few mods! A small rounded back/forward shoulder adjustment, extra ease on the side seams, extra 1 inch added to the pleat in the back, long sleeve expansion pack. Removed the exaggerated shirt shaping from the hem in favor of an even front hem and a very slight shirt-tail in the back. Side seam pockets. French seams throughout. 

Can you believe I've never sewn a plaid for myself? I made a pair of plaid pj pants for my husband, but that's the extent of my plaid sewing. I don't really see myself as a plaid-type of person... but that may be changing, because I love the way this plaid looks on me.

I did not manage to take many detail shots, but I did play a bit with plaid on the bias. The front facing of the button side is on the bias, as well as the back yoke, and that little piece on the inside of the tower placket.

I spent a ton of time getting the front properly lined up while cutting, but totally forgot to match the horizontal lines of the side seams. Fortunately I was able to finagle this into submission by shifting the side seams up .25 inches and just trimming a bit off at the sleeve. Disaster diverted!

I had four yards of Kaufman Brooklyn Plaid Flannel that I had bought at the end of year sale at Imagine Gnats last year. It's only 43 inches wide, so it was very tight, but I made it work. I ended up piecing together the back yoke and the bias front facing, and I made a pocket facing so that I could use some other flannel scraps for the majority of the pocket. The flannel scraps I used for the pockets are an incredibly soft rayon flannel, so the pockets are extra cozy! The inner yoke is also scrap flannel, and the bias tape for the hem was sewn together from about 8 different pieces.

When I was sewing this, my husband referred to it as "that thing you are making with pajama fabric." Which points out one of the hesitations I had about sewing up a Kalle in this fabric... would it just look like I was going out in my nightshirt? 

I decided a leather belt would help dress it up. This is not the first time the idea of a belt has occurred to me, so I just happened to have the perfect piece of 3/4 inch belt-length leather in my stash, purchased a couple years ago from Etsy. (OMG, they still have a listing for it...) I sewed one end into a loop. I probably could have managed this on my usual sewing machine by hand cranking a leather needle, but it just so happens that I have access to an industrial machine at work that sewed through this leather like butter. Well that was after I spent 30 minutes threading it... I obviously need some practice at that.

Hmmm... the photo above is less than perfect, it seems I've twisted the belt. But you get the idea. The sueded back actually is rather nice for helping the belt stay in place.

And.... do you see that missing button? I realized that I had forgotten it when I was getting dressed in the morning, and had to do a quick safety pin closure! There are 18 buttons on this dress, that was a bit of a chore. I put the buttons on by machine, but I hand tie the ends of the threads to make a little shank on each one. I've gotten pretty quick at that, it took me 20 minutes to do all 17 buttons (not including the missing one!)

I think this is going to be a favorite on chilly mornings! I wore it in 60 degree weather today and I was sweating, so I know it will be cozy. 

I am a little worried that it will stick like glue to my leggings. Only time will tell I suppose. I have yet to buy or make a slip that actually worked for me-- I almost always line dresses if modesty or drape requires. So if one is needed that will be a new challenge, any suggestions? 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Striped Jumpsuit Inspired by Ace and Jig

So this make I am totally in love with. 

Lately I've been admiring the designer team Ace and Jig, and their gorgeous textiles and easy styles. In particular, this jumpsuit got stuck in my head:

Then, Emmaonesock got in a lovely yarn dye, linen blend stripe. The yarns it is woven from vary slightly in weight, giving it a subtle texture. 

The pattern I used was a mash-up of the Kalle shirt (top) and the Amy Jumpsuit, both by Closet Case Patterns. I made a wide partial placket, cut on the cross-grain to the shoulder, then hugging the neck in the back. I added sleeves from the Kalle shirt long sleeve pattern. 

It was very tight fitting my pattern on my 3 yards. Then I had a total screw up-- I had cut the big pieces on the table at work, then took the scraps home to cut the small pieces on the weekend, and I cut up one of my front pieces thinking that it was a scrap! 

When I realized what I had done, I had to take a long step away to vent my frustration, then I got down to the business of piecing together a new front piece from my VERY meagre scraps. There are about 4 horizontal seams in one of the front pieces. Let's just call this a quirky design element. Interestingly, the stripes (which I very deliberately matched!) actually do a good job of camouflaging the mistake. 

The belt is also pieced from about 8 scraps, and the back of the belt and the facings are done with leftover burgundy linen. I also hemmed both the legs and arms with facings, also due to a lack of fabric, but actually I sort of love the smooth finish and slight structure of a hem done with a facing. 

Without a belt, it looks sort of pajama-y, so it is likely I'll mostly wear it with the belt. I sort of love how the long, wide belt lands just at the hemline, which was a total accident. 

I thought I wanted it longer, but this length is perfect with boots! 

I have a very strong desire to buy more lovely, striped yarn dye fabrics that might or might not be hand-woven. Where oh where should I look?