Completed: The Marlborough Bra

19 Nov

Omg, you guys! I made a bra!

Marlborough Bra

And not only that – it actually fits! It’s comfortable! And it’s PRETTY!

Marlborough Bra

Besides the little bralettes I played around with a couple months ago (which totally don’t count), this is actually the first bra I have ever made. The VERY first – it started as a wearable muslin, that is quite super duper wearable. In fact – wearing it as I type this! Can you tell how tickled I am with this turn of events? SUPER pleased with myself right now.

Ok, lemme back up a little bit and talk about the not-so-harrowing process of bra-making. The pattern I used to make this gorgeous gal is the Marlborough Bra from Orange Lingerie. I can’t even tell you how happy I am about the release of this pattern – after reading up on Norma’s (of Orange Lingerie) book Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction after she sent me a copy a couple of months ago (as well as lurking hard on the beautiful custom lingerie she makes), I knew the pattern itself would be amazing, both in terms of fit and instruction, not to mention overall style. Spoiler: the pattern absolutely did not disappoint.

While I’ve had this pattern in my stash for a little while now, it took me a couple of months to muster up the energy to actually make it up. There is a LOT of info in the pattern – as well as on the Orange Lingerie blog – about choosing fabrics and notions. Orange Lingerie’s book, Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction, is also a great resource, with whole chapters devoted to all the fine details. I ended up chatting Norma up via email for advice on what fabrics to buy, and she directed me to Bra Makers Supply (psst – the US version is Sweet Cups Bra Supply. It confused me at first, too, but the shipping is a bit more reasonable for those of us in America. You can click over to the US site from the main site, on the top right hand corner). They actually sell full bra kits that include everything you need to make a bra – the fabric & powernet, all the elastics and notions, even a tiny bow :) The Marlborough bra was designed to be made of a fabric that has no stretch, and specifically, designed for the fabric that comes in these kits. So I bought two kits right away. There are ways to manipulate any fabric to get it to work for this pattern (which is outlined here), but for my first bra, I wanted to Keep It Simple, Stupid.

A few of things I want to point out about these kits:
– They don’t come with underwires. You have to buy those separately. I bought them from the same site to save on shipping. If you don’t know your underwire size (I did not), get your best guesstimate based on your RTW size/measurements and buy the next size up or down. I bought both the 34 & the 36. I ended up using the size 34 for this bra.
– The kits also do not come with lace. You’ll need to supply that on your own. I was all set to make this bra with my red kit, until I realized I didn’t have any red lace! So I’ll be looking for red lace in London. In the meantime, the black lace leftover from my Georgia dress worked nicely for this bra :)
– While the kits do come with elastic strapping, be warned that it is NOT enough for this pattern (Maddie warned me to this, and I didn’t listen to her at all because I’m an asshole. Then I had to go back and buy more strapping. Except I bought it from a different supplier, and it was a MILLIMETER more wide than what I needed, so it’s kind of hard to slide the sliders and rings. Argh!). I think the kits are cut for bras with fabric straps. Anyway, you’ll want to buy more strapping – either from Bra Maker’s Supply, or another vendor entirely. You’ll need at least a yard and a half, and the kits come with something crazy like 15″.
– Be mindful of what size kit you are buying. My bra cups are preeeeetty small, so I bought the small kits since I wanted to save on shipping as they weigh a tiny bit less. That fabric yardage worked out great, however, I didn’t think about the fact that my size really needs a 3 hook hook and eye! The small only comes with the 2 hook size. It’s not the end of the world (my bra is perfectly supportive with the 2 hooks), but you will need to recut the back band to fit the smaller size if that’s the case. Just fyi!
– I’ll also mention that the fabric that came in the kits, at first glance, looked really cheesy and cheap. It was REALLY shiny and my first impression was that it looked like a crappy Halloween costume. Ha! For one, you can use either side of the fabric (my shiny side is on the inside, so my bra is more matte). Also, it’ll look better when it’s sewn up. Just looking at a flat, shiny piece of fabric… well, it’s gonna look shitty no matter what. So there’s that.
– Speaking of shipping, Bra Maker’s Supply did refund me about half my shipping costs after they sent my order out. That kind of ruled!

Marlborough Bra

Based on my measurements and Norma’s email advice, I decided to make the size 30D. I typically wear a size 28DD or 30D in RTW, so pretty much the same. I actually compared the pattern pieces to my favorite lace RTW bra to see if they were similar, and they were almost exactly the same. Fit-wise, things are very close. The upper cups on my handmade bra are a little more snug than the RTW one, but the RTW one also has stretch lace for the upper cup (whereas on the Marlborough, the lace is rigid), so that might have something to do with it.

The Marlborough Bra pattern is very well-written and covers every step of the process, which is super helpful if you’re like me and have never sewn a bra before. There are tips on where to add topstitching, how to sew in the underwire channels perfectly, what pieces to baste on first so they don’t slip when you zigzag them on. In itself, the pattern is absolutely sufficient for making a bra. However, I did find it incredibly helpful to have Norma’s book at my side during the process. Whenever I found a step in the pattern confusing (more so confusing because this was new and alien territory to me – and less because the instructions were lacking), the book answered it right away. It’s also helpful because there are actual photos of the steps in the book, so if the diagrams aren’t doing it for you, you have back-up. Of course, I don’t think it’s necessary to have the book to make a bra – but I was happy to have it on hand.

Marlborough Bra

Marlborough Bra

The one part about the pattern that I didn’t like was that it wasn’t super clear on what pattern pieces to cut from what fabric. This stalled me for a couple of hours, actually – there’s some general info in the pattern, but I’m the kind of person who needs clear-cut specifics. After googling as many Marlborough bras as I could find, pouring over Norma’s book, and referencing Maddie’s bra-making guide from her Sewing Party class, here’s what I came up with:
– The cups, bridge and frame are cut from the main fabric from my kit. I cut them according to the grainline, since there is a slight stretch in the fabric.
– The straps were cut out of powermesh, with the direction of greatest stretch (DOGS) running around my body.
– Since my lace is stretchy, I lined it with more of my black fabric so it would be rigid (as the pattern calls for)
– I lined the bridge with a second layer of the same black main fabric

The kits also don’t tell you which elastic is for what. I wish I’d bothered to figure that out BEFORE I started sewing – as there is actually a cute little 1/4″ scalloped/lace trim for the upper cup. Instead, I used clear elastic on the inside of my cups. Womp womp. At any rate, I figured out the rest of the elastics pretty easily – just measure them and check the widths against the pattern notions list. One thing to keep in mind, again, is that the small kit has narrower trims. Since my size is a D, I should have had the large kit (and wider elastics, including straps). I did not, but the bra turned out fine. I feel supported.

Oh, and I did not finish my seams. I felt that focusing on construction and fit was more important for this go. I do want to explore seam finishing for future bras, though!

Marlborough Bra

All this aside, I had a LOT of fun putting this thing together! Omg! Once the cups were assembled, it really started to look like a bra and that’s when things got exciting. I got to usse all kinds of cool zigzag stitches (these are all covered in the pattern instructions) and play around with lace and trims. So fun! One tip I will give is to be careful with those 1/4″ seam allowances – if you’re not used to sewing them (I’m not), you might have issues with the machine trying to eat the edge of your fabric, especially if you’re sewing something delicate. I have found that by *very* gently pulling the thread tails away from you when you start each seam, it will guide the fabric along until your feed dogs have a good grip and you’re past the danger of your machine chomping a hole in your fabric. Just be sure to hold both thread tails and don’t force it.

Also, that favorite RTW bra that looks a lot like this one? I kept it on hand while I was sewing my Marlborough, so I could refer to it when needed. That was pretty helpful, especially when I needed to visualize how the elastic was supposed to look.

Marlborough Bra

Marlborough Bra

The only downside to bramaking is, unfortunately, it’s very hard to tell if the bra will fit until it’s mostly finished. Of course, you can mock-up with crappy elastics and temporary underwires, but because the fabric is so essential to determining fit, the mock-up needs to be of the same stuff (aka, not cheap muslin, or whatever). So it’s a bit of a gamble. I’m pretty thrilled that mine fits so well – although it can definitely use a little bit of tweaking before it’s perfect. I’ll let y’all know how that goes! In the meantime, here’s a somewhat awkward photo of how this one fits on me:

Marlborough Bra

Sorry that I had to totally erase my body (I’m not terribly shy, but, this is a public blog, after all), but this should give you an ok idea of how it looks. I’m actually pretty impressed! It’s supportive, it’s comfortable, and it’s SO pretty! Looks like a bra you’d buy in a store. Except better, because I made it :P As far as wearing it under clothes – it’s about the same as any seamed/lace bra. Not completely smooth (personally, that doesn’t bother me), but not super lumpy. Since this fabric is kind of thick, I’ve noticed that nipping isn’t too much of a problem, either.

I’m looking forward to making more of these! Once I tweak the fit, I want to try some different kits – I see that Grey’s Fabric has some beautiful kits, and I’ve also been eyeballing the ones from Hooks & Wires. Not to mention the famous Merckwaerdigh kits, the holy grail of all that is beautiful about handmade lingerie. I want to buy all white everything and try my hand at dying the whole set to match (there’s a short chapter on dying in Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction, yes!). I want to explore trying new fabrics (I’m thinking this might be the PERFECT excuse to splurge on a tiny piece of Liberty fabric while I’m in London!), laces and trims, and mixing and matching for some cray combinations. I want to make matching underwear (yep). I also want to make a push-up bra, but that may require a different pattern :) Making this one bra just has me itching to sew more! It’s SO satisfying! Have I convinced you to make a bra yet? Have I? Huh? :)

Bloggy Disclaimer: Norma sent me a copy of Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction as a gift. I did buy the pattern and kits with my own money, just in case that wasn’t clear!

Ooh, speaking of London – a couple more things -
For those who have asked – there will be a meet-up on Saturday the 22nd! If you emailed me previously, you should have received the details of the meet-up a couple of days ago. Anyone else who wants to join (whether you didn’t contact me, or are just hearing about it now :) ) – we will be meeting at Goldhawk Road at 10:00 AM. We will congregate outside the tube stop until 10 minutes after the hour, then we will be moving on to shop! If you would like to join the meet-up – please, come! You don’t have to email me to get an ~invite~ (nor do you need to have a blog to hang with us). If you can’t make it at 10:00 AM but would still like to try to find us later, you can either email me and I will give you my number (I plan on getting a SIM while I’m there, so it’ll be local!) so you can text me, or just tweet me. Come to buy fabric, come to eat and drink later – whatever works! This is an open invite :)

Also, the blog will probably be pretty quiet while I’m gone. I want to really enjoy my vacation and not be sitting at a computer all day! I will have access to the web and will respond to emails and comments as I can (and maybe squeeze a post in if I have downtime waiting at the airport or something), but I don’t have anything autoscheduled and I’m not bringing in guest posters or anything like that :) I’m taking a break and I’ll be back in December! :) In the meantime, if you want to lurk my trip – you can follow my Instagram and/or Twitter.

See y’all laterz!! ♥

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Completed: Vogue 1419 (At Last!)

18 Nov

Well, no that the V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong has officially wrapped, I guess I can finally show y’all my coat! For those who didn’t catch my post on the Mood Sewing Network yesterday to see my completed coat a day early – your patience is finally being rewarded, including some never-before-seen shots that weren’t included in the original post! How exciting!

Anyway, coat!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

Considering how much I went over the making of this coat at length (see all my posts tagged v1419 here), I won’t be going over the construction so much in this post. If you want more info, feel free to check the tag – or just holler out some questions in the comments (I don’t expect anyone who didn’t actually sew along with the sewalong to have actually read the posts – they were pretty intense, and I find sewalong posts kind of boring if I’m not part of the action, you know? Anyway, snaps to you if you did read the posts! I hope you learned some new coat-making tips and tricks ;) ). Here’s a general rundown of the basic information, for those who are dropping in for the Big Reveal:
Pattern: Vogue 1419
Fabric: From the Mood Fabrics flagship NYC store – I enlisted the help of my favorite Mood dude, George, to assist me in finding my perfect red wool coating – and he knocked it out of the park! This coating is red virgin wool, it’s nice and thick with a great amount of body to give the coat it’s lovely shape. The wool itself is soft and easily malleable (very necessary for all the crazy intersecting seams of this pattern!), and the color is just PERFECT! The pattern itself does not call for lining, but I did add a layer of bright red silk taffeta as an underlining, to help the coat slide on and also as an additional layer of warmth. The contrast (inside binding, bound button holes, belt trim) is also silk taffeta, in a darker red that matches the wool coating. I think it gives a nice bit of textural interest and keeps the coat from being just straight up loud and red. Both silk taffetas were also purchased from the Mood Fabrics store in NYC, and the colors were chosen with the help of George.
Notions: Just thread and buttons! I had my buttons custom-made here in Nashville by a local lady who sells them through Textile Fabrics. Since my coating is SUPER thick (way too thick for those sad little button kits that you can buy), it needed some heavy-duty machinery to get the fabric on. I’ve used this service in the past for previous coat buttons, and the quality is excellent.
Sizing & Alterations: I cut the size 6 and sewed the coat exactly as drafted, except at the waistline where I used a 1/2″ seam allowance instead of the standard 5/8″ (just to give myself a tiny bit of eating room ;) ). I only altered the length – removed 3″ from the hemline and 1″ from the sleeve length.

V1419 Ralph Rucci - Inspiration Watercolor

Here’s my original inspiration, in watercolor :)

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

I think it turned out pretty close, if not better! :)

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

Don’t you love the photos? These were taken by my friend and fellow knitter, Alannah Arnold, who was almost as excited about this coat as I was! Alannah and I meet with a group of ladies every Monday for a casual (and, um, booze-filled, haha!) knitting night at my favorite local bar. She’s listened to me talk about this coat for weeks at this point – and offered to take photos once it was done. Which is awesome, because they turned out WAY better than anything I could have shot in front of my shed!

I met with her in East Park, in East Nashville, to take these photos. That’s a feat in itself – anyone who knows me, knows I will kick and scream when it comes to crossing the river into East Nashville. Never mind that driving into East Nashville is like driving into Brooklyn – it’s actually not that bad (unless there’s a Titans game – if then, forget about it!), it’s just fun to complain about :) Regardless, East Nashville has the prettiest fall trees, and this park is undeniably beautiful. So, I made some sacrifices (har har) and ended up with a pretty great set of pictures to match my pretty great coat! Yay!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

Ooh, and I even found a Porsche while I was at it :) haha!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

If I haven’t already made it completely obvious – I’m SO happy with my finished coat! Sewing it up was so satisfying, and absolutely worth it. It is very dramatic and theatrical – so it’s a bit excessive for daily wear. I don’t think I’ll be bringing this to London, unfortunately, as it’s definitely not very practical (it’s too fitted to really accommodation multiple layers, plus I could see those bell sleeves getting real annoying real fast after 2 weeks of daily wear). However, it is the PERFECT topper for all these upcoming holiday parties that are just around the corner ;)

Let’s also not forget how this is one of few instances where sewing can actually save you money – this coat cost less than $200 in materials, whereas the original designer version has been rumored to run closer to $10,000. Sure, making a little cotton sundress will probably set you back more than whatever you would paid from a mall retailer – but knocking off couture? That’s where the savings really start to show ;)

I will leave you with this photo of me, wearing my knock-off designer coat, throwing leaves in front of a rich person’s house. Probably the same person who owns that Porsche, to be honest:
V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

Be sure to check out the McCall Pattern Company blog to see Meg’s completed coat, if you haven’t already done so! Big thumbs up to everyone who participated in the sewalong – and big, huge thanks to Meg for agreeing to cohost this beast of a sewalong alongside me. Couldn’t have done it without you! :) Don’t forget to use the hashtag #V1419sewalong so it will show up on this tagboard. We encourage you to upload your photos to the V1419 Flickr group, the Vogue Patterns Facebook page, and pin it to the Pinterest board

Didn’t join the sewalong but still want to make your own designer Ralph Rucci? Check out my V1419 tag and the McCall Pattern Company Blog for all the posts pertaining to this sewalong. I can’t wait to see everyone’s finished coats!

What do you think? Would you ever tackle a crazy long intense project like a coat? What about THIS coat? Man, I love making coats!

Disclaimer: My pattern was provided to me free of charge from the McCall Pattern Company, and the fabric was provided from Mood Fabrics as part of my monthly allowance for participating in the Mood Sewing Network. Still, I definitely made this entire coat myself – sooo, that should count for something ;)

Completed: The Rigel Bomber Jacket

14 Nov

This jacket has been a LONG time in the making. Totally worth the wait, tho.

Rigel Bomber Jacket

My dream bomber jacket! ♥

I swear, ever since Katie released the Rigel Bomber jacket for Papercut Patterns, I have noticed this style popping up EVERYWHERE. Talk about being on point with style trends! I knew I wanted to make the jacket when I first saw the pattern last winter – it’s a great, casual jacket and I love the short length (sometimes my Minoru just feels a touch too long, depending on what I’m wearing with it – not to mention, the cotton/poly fabrics mean it’s not the best choice for super cold temperatures!). It’s totally different from any other pattern I own, so obviously I wanted to make it. Once I saw Clare’s Rigel bomber making it’s rounds – and then saw the dang thing in person during our trip to NYC earlier this year – it became Very Important that I have one in time for this current winter. Especially since I tried hers on and it looked ace on me. As you do.

Rigel Bomber Jacket

Since I was in bomber-mode for the duration of that particular shopping trip, I made it a point to source the notions I knew I’d have the hardest time finding – rib knit and a separating zip. In the mecca that is the Garment District of New York City, these things are relatively easy to find (well, at least compared to the Limited Fabric Options of Nashville, ha!). I found both of these things at Pacific Trimming – the rib knit came from the very back corner of the store, and the zipper is a Riri zipper! I chose the colors, specified the custom length according to my pattern, and paid something insane like $20 for it. I don’t actually remember how much the zipper cost, because I mostly blocked it out of my mind – but suffice to say, it cost significantly more than the $5 zips you can pick up just about anywhere.

Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket

I do want to talk about the Rigel a little more before I start going on a tangent about my notions, though. I sewed up the XXS – one, because that’s my Papercut size, and two, it’s the same size as Clare’s and I liked the way hers fit on me. I did not make any length or fitting adjustments to the pattern, just sewed it straight out of the envelope. The instructions on this pattern are great – you are guided through the steps of adding a single welt pocket, attaching the ribbing, and inserting the open-ended zip. The only part of the instructions that leaves a bit to be desired is the lack of lining – which most blog posts I’ve read have mentioned. My assumption here is that Katie wanted the pattern to be as quick and simple as possible, and adding a lining to this sort of jacket is either going to be complicated (at least to write out the instructions for) or involve a lot of hand-sewing. It’s not terribly hard to add a lining, but it does require some brain aerobics before you start sewing.

Rigel Bomber Jacket

Part of what took this jacket so long to incubate was that I couldn’t decide on a fabric! I bought my zipper and ribbing before anything else, so matching a wool fabric (yes, it had to be wool) to all that gold was a little tricky. Not to mention, my notions were a bit special – if not expensive – so I wanted to make something that I’d love and actually wear. I hemmed and hawed for MONTHS over what fabric I wanted to use… this double-faced black wool coating was my #1 contender. I actually got a swatch of it back in the spring… and it’s been pinned to my bulletin board ever since (sometimes I just make myself look at a fabric for a long time, and if I don’t get sick of it – it’s mine!). I finally bought it last month, which is actually REALLY lucky because it’s sold out now! I like how the embroidered floral design gives the fabric some interest and texture, while still keeping it relatively plain (so it doesn’t compete with my trims).

Rigel Bomber Jacket

I will mention that the fabric description is a bit off. I guess it doesn’t matter at this point, since the fabric is sold out – but it definitely feels more like a light to medium weight fabric, NOT a heavy coating. The wrong side is brushed with long fuzzy strands of fabric fiber, and this fabric SHEDS LIKE A BITCH. Even though my jacket is lined, I serged every single seam of the wool because I couldn’t otherwise control the shedding. I really don’t recommend trying this fabric if you can’t serge the raw edges – a plain straight stitch won’t prevent it from eventually disintegrating.

Also, on a bit of a bummer-town note – this fabric doesn’t really wear well. It’s already starting to pill and look kind of old :( So this jacket might not have a super long lifespan as it is. Good thing I can always salvage that ridiculously expensive zipper! :DDD

Rigel Bomber Jacket

I don’t know why I’m winking in this photo (just imagine me taking my pictures with a remote and tripod and things get even creepier with the winking ahaha)? Anyway, here’s the lining! I lined the entire jacket with gold china silk, which goes really nicely with my gold accents. I love the warm combination of silk+wool – it’s lightweight, and while it probably won’t work well in the Arctic, it’s fine for our mild winters (or a mild spring up north).

I will deviate for a second here to talk about the lining. As I mentioned, the instructions don’t tell you how to do this. Further, while there are lots of posts scattered around the internet on how to line the Rigel, none of them were exactly what I wanted (NO raw edges, no hand sewing). I wanted to try bagging the lining – which, spoiler alert, that shit totally worked! I used to do this all the time when I worked for Muna last year, but my memory was a little spotty, especially since we never used written instructions for anything (I like instructions when I’m sewing – even if it’s just a checklist – so I don’t forget to do something important!). I used Jen’s tutorial on bagging a jacket lining to jolt my memory, which was extremely helpful. Here are the steps I took to get my lining in that dang jacket:
1. First, I drafted some lining pieces – using the facings as a guide, I removed that amount from the jacket pieces (the front, the back, and the sleeves), and added 3/8″ seam allowances. I also added an ease pleat to the back piece, but I haven’t ripped open the basting yet because I found that I don’t need it. Someday, it will pop open and scare me, probably.
2. I constructed the entire jacket – up to the ribbing and zipper. The lining was completely assembled, with the facings attached.
3. I sewed the two jackets together at the neckline and zipper, as instructed by the pattern (for attaching the facing), and pressed and understitched.
4. I sewed the bottom of the zipper and facing, as instructed by the pattern (some of the lining may later need to be unpicked to get it to turn correctly, this is ok!)
5. I sewed the lining to the seam allowance of the ribbing at the bottom, right sides together.
6. I attached the lining to the sleeve hems at the ribbing, right sides together.
7. At this point, I had a giant Möbius tube of jacket+lining with everything attached and no openings anywhere. It was slightly horrifying – and exactly on track. This is when you rip open a section of the underarm lining that’s already been stitched, and pull the entire jacket through the hole.
8. Press everything, and then sew up the hole. I actually close up my hole from the inside by machine as much as I can, and then sew the remaining inch or so shut on the outside (I tried to take pictures to show how I do this, but it’s really hard to understand if you’re not actually seeing it in action. Needless to say, my closed-up hole is only about an inch long, instead of the 4″ tear I had to make to get the jacket pulled through it).
9. The little sections at the bottom where the facing meets the ribbing will need to be sewn shut by hand.

Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket

AND JUST LIKE THAT – A COMPLETELY BAGGED LINING WITH NO VISIBLE SEAMS! Woohooo!

Rigel Bomber Jacket

Ok, now we can talk about all the fun trimmings!

Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket

What I neglected to tell you guys about this ribbing is that is actually has sparkly gold stripes. It is amazing! Pacific Trimming sells these in 1 yard pieces – and I needed two pieces. They’re about $8 a piece, if I recall correctly (they won’t cut them down, at least, they wouldn’t when I was there!). Also, when I pressed them, they smelled like a fart (I actually wrote this in my sewing notebook, so it must be important and worth mentioning, I guess). Must be all the polyester?

The Riri zipper looks really nice with the sparkly gold, I think! I still haven’t decided if it was worth the obscene price I paid. On one hand, it was really cool to be able to pick the zipper based exactly on my specifications – color, length, everything. It does feel solid and it is really satisfying to zip up (Riri zippers are referred to as the ~Rolls Royce~ of zippers, I’m told). That being said – $20 for a zipper? Yeah. I dunno. It sure is pretty, though!

Have a photo dump:

Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket

God, I’m sorry about that.

Rigel Bomber Jacket

Anyway, I LOVE my new jacket and I’m so glad I took my time with choosing the right fabric (as well as figuring out that lining!) because the end result was so worth the wait. I’ve been wearing this thing constantly since I finished it – just in time for the weather to get cold, it seems. I’d love to make a patterned version of this one – either with some floral wool (LIBERTY?!), or something polka dotted! Can’t have too many bombers amirite. I even have a couple more pieces of rib knit that I apparently bought during that shopping trip that I completely forgot about. They are black with white stripes. Thanks, past Lauren! ♥

Oh! And my pants are those Jamie Jeans I made a couple of months ago. Just mentioning it because I ended up taking in the inseam a little bit more after that last post, so you can see what they look like now. I think the fit is much better! I’ve found I can usually go about 3-4 wearings between washings on these, before the knees bag out enough to drive me crazy.

Lastly, I will leave you with this outtake. Not sure what I was doing there, but it made me laugh, so hopefully it’ll make you laugh too! :D

Rigel Bomber JacketHave a great weekend, y’all!

Completed: The Lady Renfrew

12 Nov

Question: What do you get when you combine the Lady Skater with the Renfrew??

Lady Renfrew

Answer: The awesomest, snuggliest, Lady Renfrew dress, of course!

Lady Renfrew
Lady Renfrew

There’s not much to say about this dress – I basically just summed it up in the first sentence. This will be a relatively short post, ha (is that even possible for me to accomplish? Time will tell). Anyway, I used a combination of the two patterns to create this Frankenpatterned dress. The bodice, skirt and sleeves came from the Lady Skater, which after much careful testing, I’ve decided is my favorite favorite favorite knit dress pattern. The bodice fits me really well, the sleeves are a good fit/length (all sleeve length options, I mean), and I love the flared-but-not-costumey-looking skirt. Everything about this pattern is exactly what I like in a knit dress, so it was the obvious choice for the base of this dress. To get the cowl neck, I left off the neck binding and instead used the cowl from view C of the Renfrew tshirt. I compared the two patterns to see if I’d need to make any modifications, and the necklines were surprisingly similar (fwiw, I use the size 2 Lady Skater and the size 0 in the Renfrew). So similar, that all I did was just sew the pieces together and that was it. I don’t remember what seam allowance I used to attach the two (Lady Skater is drafted for 3/8″, and Renfrew is 5/8″), knowing me – probably 1/2″ because it’s in the ~middle~. Or something dumb like that. Whatever, it worked out regardless! :D

Lady Renfrew

The real bitch part of making this dress was cutting the dang fabric. I had 3 things to pay attention to while I was cutting this – matching the print horizontally across the seams; being mindful of fabric usage (I barely had enough!); and actual print placement. I cut it so the darker stripes cross my waist, and the lighter stripes cross my bust. I think that’s a flattering look for me, plus, I love the way the white print kind of frames my head (that’s a bonus, because I totally cut it that way with the intention of it making my boobs look slightly bigger hahaha). I didn’t do any print matching on the cowl. I ran out of fabric and actually had to cut the underlayer with a seam. It worked out, though!

Lady Renfrew

AND NOW I HAVE THIS BIG SNUGGLY COWLLLLLL WOOHOO!

Lady Renfrew

I think the fabric is what really makes this dress! And by makes, I mean it’s slightly over-the-top – I’m almost afraid to wear it before Christmas season, ha. It’s like a giant, awesome black and white Ikat Christmas sweater. I bought it from The Fabric Studio here in Nashville; it’s the same fabric I used to make my Ooh La Yoga Pants. While it wasn’t 100% ideal for yoga pants, it’s pretty freaking fabulously good for this sort of dress. The fabric is nice and stable, cozy, and works really well for this sort of pattern.

Lady Renfrew

I especially love how the cowl looks. Yay cowls!

Lady Renfrew

So, what do you think? Lady Skater+Renfrew – do we have a perfect partnership here, or what?

Two more things:
1. Giant thanks to everyone who attended my class at The Sewing Party on Saturday! I had so much fun chatting with y’all (although I’ll admit – I kept my video on mute! Can’t handle the sound of my own voice blaring at me ahaha) and I’d love to do more video-related stuff if the opportunity ever arises again :) Y’all are the best! Just wanted to give all my students (and future students, for those of you who will be watching the class sometime during the next 90 days) a head’s up – I forgot to remind you to download the handout for my class! I know, bad teacher! Anyway, it’s a little PDF document with all the class info written out – along with photo tutorials for each zipper insertion. You can find it to the left of the video, under handouts and chats.

2. The big closing sale at Sweet Little Chickadee is still going strong! Juli has upped the ante a little bit – now use the code SHOPCLOSINGSALE to get 35% off your entire order! This code is good until all the stock runs out!

3. I recently found out that I was named one of the top 50 sewing blogs in Budrastyle‘s Best of Blogging contest. COOL! I’ll be honest – I had no idea I was even nominated (or that this contest was even a thing) until I got the congratulatory email. Big huge thank you to whoever nominated me, and even bigger huger thank you to everyone who voted for me! Y’all are seriously the best! I’m not worthy! ;)

V1419 Sewalong: Steps 64-86

10 Nov

Good morning, sewalongers! This is the week we finish up our coats – woohoo!! (and those of y’all who are not following the sewalong – this is the last week you have to skip a boring sewalong post! Woohoo!). Can you just feel the excitement radiating in the air? ;)

So, the good news is – this is the final construction post before we have our sharextravaganza next week. The bad news – it’s a HELLUVA post. Lots and lots of pictures (in advance: I’m soooo sorry! Tried to cull them down as much as possible. On the flip side, none of them are of me ;) lolololol), lots of little fiddly steps here. On the flip side, this is all finishing – which means when it’s done, the coat is done – but expect this to take some time, especially since there is lots of hand sewing in this section.

Anyway, onto finishing!

The first thing you will want to do is sew the bias facing to both of the opening edges of the coat front, as well as along the neckline and across the hem. I’m not going to go into detail of how to do the facing – we’ve all done enough bias facing on this coat, I think most of us can do it in our sleep at this point ;) – but I did want to mention a couple little tips that helped me.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Once I sewed the facing on and trimmed down the seam allowances, I pressed all the raw edges toward the facing, using lots of steam.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Then simply press the facing to the inside of the coat. You will want to hand baste this in place, which will give you greater control when top stitching (especially important at those coat front edges).

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
At the hem and neckline, you may find that where you are intersecting seams tends to be *very* bulky – like, so bulky that you can barely turn the facing to the inside. I used my scissors to chop out as much of the bulk as possible (being careful not to cut into the stitching line or outside of the seam allowances), and them hammered them down like crazy with my clapper, to make things very flat.

Actually, if you have a clapper – it’s a good idea to smack down those edges after you’ve top stitched them, to flatten them as much as possible and give them a nice sharp crease. This will make your coat look much more professional :)

Now, for the button holes! Fair warning – these took foreveeeeer to finish! Lots of fiddly pieces, lots of fiddly hand stitching. I know at this point, most of y’all are probably over this coat and just want to finish so it can be worn, but please take your time with these steps. The button holes are one of the most visible parts of the coat, and you don’t want them to look sloppy!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Remember when we sewed around the edges of where the button holes would go? Now you need to cut right in the middle of those stitches. I first used chalk to mark where the V would start, and then cut along the lines indicated. Cut right up to the stitching, but not through it.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
You will have a little V flap at the inside end. Fold this to the inside and press.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
To make the button hole binding, find those 4 bias pieces you cut, and press down one long edge about 1/4″. You will want to cut the binding into 20 pieces – 4 pieces will be 2.5″ long, and 16 pieces will be 2.75″ long. You should have enough binding to cut exactly the number of pieces needed (if for some reason you screw up and need more binding – just salvage a piece of leftover facing, and cut it in half at the fold. Y’all have lots of bias facing left over, right? I do hahaha). Fold in 1/4″ at short edges of each little piece and press. Yes, this part takes forever. Sorry.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
On the bottom of your button hole, pin a piece of binding with the right sides facing and the raw edges matching. The edge that meets the front edge of the coat should be flush, the edge against the end of the button hole should extend a bit farther. Be aware of what binding goes on what button hole – the 2.5″ binding is for the top 2 button holes (on the left and right side of the coat front); the remaining binding is for the remaining button holes.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
I went ahead and pinned the top binding as well, because I am impatient.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Sew the binding to the coat, stitching along your original stitching lines. I found it easier to do this from the inside, so I could make sure I was sewing in the correct place. When you get to the end of your stitching line – where the stitching pivots to the end of the button hole – stop and back stitch. Do not go any farther than the existing stitching line.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Your binding should look like this on the outside of your coat. Notice that the stitching does not go all the way across to the tip of the binding. This is good; it means we can pull the end of the binding to the inside.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Here it is from the inside.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Starting at the open end, fold the binding to the inside and pin into place. I pinned both top and bottom because – again, impatient. You could also work with one side at a time. Whatever is easier!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
For the end of the binding that is by the V you clipped, pull all the binding to the inside of the coat and pin down. This should cover the V completely, but if not, you can always clip whatever is sticking out :)

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Repeat for the bottom (or top). Your finished pinned button hole should look like this.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Here it is from the outside.

The next thing you nee to do is slipstitch alllllll those bindings invisibly to the inside of the coat. Yep! This part takes forever! I also stitched my bindings so the edges encased the edge of the coat front, as well as slip stitched the open ends together with a few stitches. When you get to where the binding covers the triangle, be sure to catch that in your stitches so the button hole is secure. Check from the front occasionally to make sure everything looks good, especially making sure that triangle is pushed all the way to the inside of the coat and not sticking out.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Once you’ve finished the torture that is slipstitching ALL THAT BINDING, give everything a good press (and maybe a smack with the clapper, too, if it needs it. Mine did!). We’re not done yet!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Next up is thread bartacks! Start by marking where the bartacks will go – you will have 4 total for each button hole – left and right (so a total of… 40. Woof.). There will be a bartack at each end of the button hole, plus another bartack 1/2″ from each end. I marked mind with chalk.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
The bartacks will go faster/look better if you thread up with multiple strands. I used 3 strands of thread, and then doubled my needle, for a total of 6. You can also use embroidery floss – I just didn’t have any of the right color on hand.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Starting on the inside, make a small knot with your thread, or tack it in a couple spots to secure it. I made a small loop and then pulled the needle through it.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Pull the needle to the outside and stitch across the button hole to the other side, letting the thread connect the two sides. Make another knot on the inside (or, again, secure with a few stitches), and then pull the needle back to the outside.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
To make the bartacks, loop your thread like so.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Then pull the needle through the loop to create a knot (same concept as a button hole stitch, or a blanket stitch).

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Pull the loop until it knots at the end. Repeat this over and over until you have a chain of knots that completely covers the thread. This is your bartack. Do this 4 times for every button hole. Also, have a glass of wine while you’re doing this – you’ll be sitting for a hot minute ;)

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Some bartack tips:
– You will get better as you do these! I recommend starting with the button side first, at the bottom button hole, so your practice attempts won’t be as easily seen :) Of course, you could practice on scraps first – but, naw, not me!
– Don’t pull the knots too tight, or you will distort them and they won’t be as pretty :(
– Try to make your knots in the same direction as you go – this will keep them uniform and hopefully prevent twisting!
– If at all possible, try to do these in one sitting. The repetition means you will get better as you do it, so if you complete them all in one sitting, you won’t need to go through multiple learning curves (than if you picked it up several times during the week).
– The original Rucci coat has the bartacks continue on the back side of the bound button holes as well. The instructions for this pattern only call for the bartacking in the front (which is what I did). If you want to mimic the original and bartack the back of the button holes – well, don’t let me stop you :)
– Don’t get too hung up on perfection – yes, you want these to look nice, but at the same time, most of them will be covered by the buttons. Not worth killing yourself over!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Once you’ve finished your loops, time to sew on those buttons! Sew the buttons in the middle of the binding on the left front, catching both bindings in the stitches. For the top button, sew it 1/2″ away from the edge (it won’t be quite in the middle).

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
You can also go ahead and sew those back buttons on the belt. The pattern actually has you make button holes first – which of course you can do, but I omitted mine.
One word of note about the belt – don’t try to cinch it in too tight, or you’ll create gathers on the coat sides. Pin the belt closed first, and try it on to make sure everything is smooth and flat.

Finally, all that’s left is the sleeves. Go ahead and hem them with the bias facing – same concept as the other hemming and facing we did in these steps.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
The last thing we will do is make these little sleeve binding pieces, to cover the edge where all the crazy sleeve seams intersect. Cut 2 pieces that are approximately 1.5″ long by 1″ tall (or possibly taller, if your fabric is very thick and bulky – I cut mine 2″x2″, because my fabric required the extra room!). Fold one long edge under 1/4″ and press, and both short edges as well.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Sew the binding to the outside of the sleeve, with the right sides facing, at the point where all the seams intersect. Sew right along your topstitching line. If your fabric is bulky, you may want to trim down the seam allowance of this binding piece.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Turn the binding to the inside, wrapping around the sleeve hem and being sure that all folded edges are tucked under. Slipstitch around the 3 edges and press. Again, this is a good time to use your clapper to really flatten those seams. Gah, you guys must think I have stock in clappers at this point hahaha.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Your finished sleeve will look like this. Yes, some of my top stitching is wonky. Oh well!

Whew! That’s all for this post – AND THIS COAT! How’s everyone coming along with their coats? I’ve been loving all the progressing (and some completed!) coats that are popping up in the Flickr Group. You’re SO almost done!! If you want to show off your coat in our Parade of Coats next week (which, obvs, you should!), you have a few options – you can upload to the the Flickr Group, and you can also upload to the Pinterest Fan Gallery. Be sure to use the hashtag #v1419Sewalong so you’ll appear in our Tagboard, where we will also be pulling finished coat photos. Can’t wait to see everyone’s coats!! :D

Completed: Boiled Wool SJ Sweater

7 Nov

I’m just gonna come out and say it: “boiled wool” is the grossest fabric name. It just sounds disgusting – like some kind of rubbery, overcooked fabric food that you’re only putting in your body because there is literally nothing else in the house and you are starving to death. Am I right? Am I right?

Wool SJ Sweater

When it comes to fabrics, though, boiled wool is pretty amazing. I had some spend some time working with it – sewing up a storm at Elizabeth Suzann‘s, making sweaters and kimonos and coats (so, so, so many coats. I am the coat whisperer now, y’all). After spending so much quality time handling this fabric – pressing (boiled wool loooves steam) and sewing (where the stitches just sink right in) – I found myself anxious to buy some and make a luxe sweater/sweatshirt for myself. So I bought some – off Elizabeth herself (she lets me ride the coattails of her wholesale orders and, um, you guys, I’m not even going to tell you how little I paid for this wool. NOT EVEN.).

Wool SJ Sweater

It was a borderline agonizing choice, but I ultimately decided to get the camel color (next time, though, I will be getting some black. And some moss. Dammit, I want them all!) because I had ~visions~ of it looking gorgeous with my polka dot chambray button-down. Doesn’t it? I also love camel because I feel like it looks equally good with black and brown (and navy, for that matter!).

Wool SJ Sweater

As I mentioned, I’ve had some time to work with this fabric and get an idea of how to handle it. They very first thing I did was prewash the yardage – the same way I wash/block my handknits. I soaked it in gentle wool wash (I use Soak, which I actually buy from my local yarn store, but here it is on Amazon), used a towel to wring out the excess, and then laid it flat to dry in the yard. This particular boiled wool (and maybe all boiled wools?) shrinks up quite a bit after it’s been washed, giving the fabric more of a felted quality than it is when you first pull it off the roll. You can also steam-shrink the fabric (which is what we do at the studio), but I knew I’d be washing this stuff here on out, so I wanted to get all the shrinkage eliminated before I started sewing.

Wool SJ Sweater

For construction, there is not much different you need to do from sewing, say, a very stable ponte knit. I just used a regular 70/10 needle (not even ballpoint – the wool is felted so it’s not necessary to preserve the knitted loops or anything) and sewed everything on the sewing machine. I left my seams unfinished and pressed them open with lots of steam. I think the open seams look a little neater this way, plus, they’re not as bulky as they’d be if I serged them. Again, since the wool is felted – nothing is going to unravel. Even for the hems, I just turned up the allowance and topstitched it down.

Wool SJ Sweater

The only part I struggled with (and I’m still not 100% happy about, if we’re being honest here) was the neckline. Not because it was difficult to sew – but because I didn’t know how I was going to finish it! At Elizabeth’s, we just turn the hem allowance under and topstitch. This is absolutely fine for finishing boiled wool – but we’re talking crewneck sweaters here, and mine is obviously very scooped. I needed a finish that would pull in the neckline just a little – like a ribbing. Except I didn’t want a ribbing, because I wanted this sweater to be ~fancy.

The first thing I did was try to turn the hem allowance under, and then sew clear elastic into the neckline like an invisible banding. That did not work out. I don’t have any photos, but it looked like shit and you have to trust me.

The next thing I did was try to use the boiled wool as a self-fabric band for the neckline. It sort of stretches, so it sort of works.

Wool SJ Sweater

This picture makes it look way better than it did in reality. What you don’t see here is that the binding would NOT lay flat – especially at the center front. It is standing almost straight up in some sections, like the weirdest little funnel not-collar. Believe me, I pulled and stretched as hard as I could to encourage the neckline to ease smaller (and thus lie flat), and then steamed the beejezus out of it, but there’s only so much you can do with boiled wool. It’s not a true knit, so you can’t really treat it as one. Furthermore, the inside just looked raggedy with the self fabric neckline. Too many unfinished seam allowances (I know, I know, I just said the unfinished edges were fine – but even I have neckline limits, ok), too bulky, and noooope!

nope

Wool SJ Sweater

My solution was to apply a bias facing to the neckline, stretching the bias to get it to lie snug and thus pull the neckline in. I used this method to sew it on, and the bias is a piece of silk charmeuse that I got from Elizabeth’s scrap pile (surprisingly – it was the result of a botched dye job, although it matches the wool quite beautifully, so yay for me!). I think this netted the best result, although I think the neckline is still a little wide for this sweater. Oh well. That’s just my fault for choosing this pattern. Better luck next time!

Wool SJ Sweater

The pattern I used is the SJ Tee from my beloved Papercut Patterns. I raised the neckline a couple of inches – not that you can tell! – but the rest of the pattern is sewn as-is, using my previous adjustments. Other than the bias faced neckline, I didn’t make any construction changes. Oh, no, wait, I did leave off the sleeve ribbing. I just turned that hem allowance under and topstitched it down! The boiled wool does not have nearly as much stretch as a standard knit, however, this pattern is a little loose-fitting on me as it is, so I think it turned out fine. If you want to make this in a wool and retain the design ease, I’d recommend sizing up.

Wool SJ Sweater
Wool SJ Sweater
(sorry ’bout the color discrepancy! The less-washed out photos show the true color. And that yellow tag is there to remind us NOT to wash this sweater with the laundry, since it’s wool :) )

Wool SJ Sweater

As you can see, this sweater is not ideal for a completely 100% no-gape neckline. That’s ok, though, since I’ll likely be wearing it with something underneath (this boiled wool is soft, but it’s still a little bit itchy!). I am pretty happy with how this turned out – I like the shape, the raglan sleeves, and how lush the fabric is (aka makes it look expensive. Ha!) – but I’m still iffy on the neckline. I think it’s too wide. It looks ok with the collared shirt underneath, but… eh. I don’t know. Obviously I can’t do much to change this current sweater – so I’ll be wearing it regardless – but for future makes, I need to refigure that silhouette. What do you think? Too much of a scoop? Am I way out of left field and overthinking?

Speaking of the collared shirt – I still haven’t made any changes to the sleeves. I decided to wait until it’s been laundered a few times – that way, if it shrinks, I won’t be up shit creek. In the meantime, I do like the fit/length of the sleeves under a sweater, so there’s that!

Wool SJ Sweater

At any rate, I’m pretty happy with boiled wool! Gross name and all :) Tell me – have you ever sewn with boiled wool? Would you? Or do you think the name just sounds nasty? :)

Last thing – time to announce last week’s giveaway winner! After a harrowing 208 comments, random number generator chooses….

winner2
winner1

Yay! Congratulations, Dawn! I will be in touch to get that book to you – so you can start making those pajama bottoms asap! First time for everything ;) (also, can we kill that rumor that Random.org never chooses the first or last number? Because, clearly, not the case!).

Thanks to everyone who entered, and thanks for all your lovely comments on the post (and thank you, Roost Books, for letting this giveaway be possible!). If you’re still itching to buy yourself a small piece of Tilly, you can buy Love at First Stitch from Amazon, or directly from the magic-maker herself.

Happy Friday, everyone! :)

Completed: Rose Hip Tights

5 Nov

Hey everyone! Before we get into the fun part of this post, a couple things that bear mentioning but don’t quite warrant their own post:
– Have you signed up to join The Sewing Party yet? The party starts on November 8 (this Saturday!), where over 30 educators will be teaching a plethora of online classes – including sewing a tank top, bra making, intro to sewing knits, and cross stitch (those last two were actually shot here in Nashville, in the same place/same day I filmed my class! Check out Devon’s post if you want some ~insider info~). I’ll be participating with my own class – Apparel Zippers 101! In my segment, I’ll show y’all how to insert both lapped and invisible zippers, how to deal with facing/lining, and what types of zippers are suitable for what garments. The classes are viewable for 90 full days after the day of the actual party, so no worries if you can’t watch them all in one day! Who else is going to The Sewing Party? Have you seen the trailer for my class yet? EEP.
– Speaking of sewing classes – and Jennifer! – I’m excited to announce that I’ll be back at WORKROOM SOCIAL again to teach another round of the Weekend Pants-Making Intensive on March 21-22! YES! I am SO excited about this; the last class I taught there was ridiculously fun and I met so many awesome ladies that weekend (and, you know, crotch-grabbing). Can’t wait to come back and do it again (and hit up the Garment District while I’m at it, because, obviously.). You can see all the details of the class on the website, but the general gist – it’s a 2 day class, which includes snacks & lunch, use of all machines & tools in the studio, plus the tuition itself – where we we will be covering basic pants-fitting, installing the front fly, pockets and waistband, and little sewing tips and tricks for increasing speed and accuracy. It’s going to be INSANELY fun and I’m so excited! The space will fill up fast, so get your registration in before the class sells out! Who else is coming to our PANTS PARTY? :D
– US Readers – if haven’t already done so, don’t forget to throw your name in the hat for the Love at First Stitch giveaway! Entries close on Friday, so you still have time :)

Ok! Now for the make! This might qualify for one of the most random things I’ve ever made for myself (my hairstylist busted out laughing when I told her my plans for these – thank god she hadn’t started cutting my bangs yet! Ha!) – tights!

Not leggings or stirrup pants (I saw somewhere a couple of years ago that those might be making a comeback? Huh? Can someone please tell me if stirrup pants are about to a thing again?) – but, like, actual literal tights. Pantyhose. Whatever you call those things that completely cover your feet like there are socks attached to them. I MADE THOSE THINGS.

Rose Hip Tights

So why make your own tights? Well… why not? Personally, I wanted something with wool so that I could use them to layer and stay warm in the winter (either layered under my pants – like long underwear – or layered under a thinner pair of tights and worn with a skirt. I’m so cold-blooded that I’m practically reptilian, so I’m always looking for new ways to stay warm in the winter.). I love wool tights, but those things are expensive. Plus, you’re limited to the colors and styles that are available in stores – which, depending on where you shop, could mean you get a shitty selection. No thank you!

Rose Hip Tights

So I made my own. Surprisingly, they were REALLY easy and fast to make – the hardest part is choosing fabric, since you want something with a good 4 way stretch and a superb recovery (otherwise you’ll end up with baggy tights – this means no cotton or rayon, unless there’s a loooot of spandex thrown in the mix). For the pattern, I used the Rose Hip Tights from Seamster Patterns. I’ve been eyeballing this pattern ever since it came out – first, with curiosity (“Do I want to make something like that?”), later, with lust (“God, I wish I could just make some fucking wool tights!”), and last month I finally went ahead and bought it. I was apprehensive at first, because I had NO idea how these were going to come together – or if they’d even be wearable – but my experience with Mari’s patterns in the past have been nothing but positive, so I trusted. I trusted hard and Mari did not let me down.

Rose Hip Tights

First of all, the instructions on this pattern are crazy good. There were a few parts where I scratched my head for a couple of minutes before it made sense, but for the most part – everything is very clearly laid out, with great diagrams included. The instructions don’t just cover construction, by the way. They also cover fabric selection and alterations – finally, I could make tights that are actually the right length (can I get a halleluiah up in here?). For fabric selection, you need a knit with a 4 way stretch and good recovery, and your stretch percentage will determine what size you cut. There’s a little chart to help you determine stretch percentage, if you don’t know that for your particular fabric (I didn’t, nor did I know how to calculate it, so that was very helpful!). For this fabric – which is a lightweight wool knit I bought from Paron’s while I was in NYC in August – I had a 75% 4 way stretch, so I cut the size 2XS and shortened the legs. I don’t remember exactly how much I shortened the legs, sorrrrry (it’s been about a month since I made these), but I based the length off a pair of RTW tights that does fit me correctly. I also used maths, calculating my stretch percentage with the length. They ended up perfect. I am so tickled.

Like I said, the construction part was NOT bad! These came together super quickly, everything matched up, and everything fit. That’s pretty impressive! I used my serger to whip everything together – the only change was that I changed to a 3 thread overlock instead of my usual 4 thread overlock (I figured the 3 thread would be a little less bulky, and I was right!).  I think these were finished in about 20 minutes. Forreal. Even the gussets were easy to sew, which – if you’ve ever sewn a gusset in something woven, you know that’s quite a feat. Fortunately, knits are very forgiving and you can just stretch them into submission if need be. Which is exactly what I did!

Rose Hip Tights

AND JUST LIKE THAT, I MADE TIGHTS.

Rose Hip Tights

There are some interesting design details in this pattern (I’d love to show y’all a photo of them without the skirt, but, um, last I checked, I get a lot of fetishists creeping on my site & Flickr and I don’t want to fuel the fire any more than I apparently already am SORRY GUYS); it’s not just a plain pair of tights. The foot is formed with the seam on top (so it doesn’t irritate your foot to walk on it – genius!) and across the toes, and then it V’s into a back seam that runs all the way to the top. There is a gusset at the crotch for comfort. The pattern includes options for a low rise, a high rise, and thigh-highs, plus the foot gusset means you can colorblock the hell out of these for some mega fun tights. I made the high rise version, and omitted the optional elastic at the waist.

Rose Hip Tights

For my second pair, I used this awesome printed lace from Funki Fabrics. I LOVE the way these turned out, at least appearance-wise. They are soo pretty, and since the lace is printed – they are very opaque and warm!

Rose Hip Tights

The print is too busy to really showcase the seams up the back, but, whatever. They’re still pretty cool!

Rose Hip Tights

Unfortunately, the fit on these is not as good as the fit on my grey pair :( This is 100% my fault, as I did not calculate the stretch percentage of the fabric before cutting it – I just assumed it would be the same. This fabric is very stretchy – but it’s not the same 75% stretch as my grey fabric. More like 50%. Because of this, the tights are PRETTY FREAKING SNUG. It’s like wearing shapewear! I would almost be ok with that, except that they’re also a little too short (again, stretch percentage calculation error on my part). I can get them on – but it’s a pretty intense struggle, and they really just aren’t comfortable because the crotch hangs too low :( It’s not the end of the world – I can gift them to my smaller/shorter preteen niece, or even turn them into thigh-highs – but, ugh. Learn from my mistakes, y’all. All knits are not created equal!

Rose Hip Tights

Anyway, I had a fun time sewing the second pair – the lace ones (well, I had fun sewing the gray pair too, but more in a ~learning~ sense). I took them with me to the Open Sewing Lab that I run at The Fabric Studio here in Nashville (I like to bring a simple project with me so I can be doing something if no one needs me – I always hated having teachers who breathed down my neck! Give me some space, lady!), and everyone was laughing hysterically at how small they were while they were being constructed. I mean – they do have to stretch a LOT to fit properly, but they still look insanely tiny when not on a body. At least I got them on when they were finished! Barely! haha!

Rose Hip Tights

Rose Hip Tights

Rose Hip Tights

I just love all the little details on these tights – especially how ridiculous the foot looks when there’s not a foot in it :)

So yep, that’s it! I’m anxious to try more tights – I’d love to have them in black, brown, and dark grey (the tight colors I wear most), and I’d LOVE to try these with something textured or cabled, or even a full-on sweater knit! Sweater tights! Yesss!! If anyone knows where I can get wool knit with a 4 way stretch of at least 50% (but preferably 75%), holler! Most of the merinos I have are only 2 way stretch :( I’m also curious to try some tights in super crazy fabric – such as this awesomeness?! I love celebrating Halloween year-round, ha! What about you? Would you ever make your own tights? Did I just change your mind? :)

Oh, and yes, that’s a Mabel skirt I’m wearing. I wanted to show y’all how it looks with a shorter tshirt –  I think the overall balance of my silhouette looks MUCH better, don’t you think? A bunch of y’all were equally mystified with how to style these skirts, and so at least one answer! It’s amazing how much better it looks with the slightly shorter shirt hem, yeah? Also, I didn’t make that tshirt, although I did hem and size it down to fit me better (which is something I do with most of my tshirts, just because the out-of-the-box shape doesn’t tend to be very flattering on me).

Disclaimer: I received the lace knit fabric from Funki Fabrics in exchange for a review.

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