V1419 Sewalong: Fabric Selection

29 Sep

Vogue Patterns V1419 Ralph Rucci coat pattern sewalong

Good morning & happy Monday, sewalongers! Today, we are going to talk about my favorite part of coat-making (or, really – any sewing project :) ) – fabric selection! Forreal, I could spend all day perusing fabrics and never feel like I’ve seen enough!
(psst – if you’re just here for the discount code, it’s at the bottom of this post :) FYI)

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, though, let’s take a minute and look at the original garment:

coat inspiration

A couple things that immediately come to mind when I see this picture-
1. As far as coats go, there is not a lot of ease in this guy. This is not your wear-everywhere-and-pile-the-thick-sweaters-underneath sort of coat – it’s very fitted and the shape is quite dramatic. Something to keep in mind while choosing your fabric!
2. To get that dramatic shape, we need a choose a fabric with quite a stiff drape and a very firm hand. The original coat is made of a sort of heavy wool garbadine backed with a stiff wool flannel. The resulting fabric is very substantial – stiff and sturdy enough to hold it’s shape. If you make this coat in a fabric with a softer drape, you will not get the same end result. This could be good or bad, depending on how you want the finished coat to look!

Still having problems wrapping your head around the whole drape factor? Don’t know if you even want a coat that’s this dramatic and structured? Go ahead and start your muslin, using a fabric that is a similar weight to what you have in mind (if you can’t find muslin fabric with a stiff enough drape, try inexpensive cotton twill or even home decor fabric). That will give you a good idea of the drape you need to get the coat you want. For more information on fabric drape, check out this post I wrote a couple months ago!

Now let’s talk about possible fabric choices! With all big projects like this, I URGE you to swatch before you commit to anything! You don’t want to spend a lot of money on coating fabric, only to find out that the drape wasn’t as stiff as you were anticipating (been there, done that! And you can’t return fabric most of the time, argh!). Especially when it comes to the contrast for this coat – you want to make sure the colors work together, that the coating is the right weight/drape/hand, and that you actually *like* the way it looks in real life. I’m recommending these fabrics based on the website descriptions, but please don’t take my word for the gospel until you’ve actually touched it in real life.

Also, please keep in mind that this coat is UNLINED. You will want to choose a fabric that can easily slide over your arms – or you will need to underline the coat with something that serves that purpose. As far as I know, there’s not a way to completely line this particular coat (with all the insides hidden and all that). We will be covering underlining in this sewalong, we will NOT be covering lining. Consider yourself warned!

FOR WINTER-WEIGHT COATS WITH A STIFF DRAPE:
virgin wool
For a dense and warm coat with a nice stiff hand, you can’t go wrong with virgin wool. This fabric is not quite as stiff as the original – it will still hold that nice bell shape at the sleeves and skirt, but with softer folds. Virgin wool is actually what I bought for my coat – in a beautiful lipstick red :)

felt
Another great option that will provide lots of warmth and structure is wool felt. Definitely swatch this – you don’t want it to be too thick for all those seams!

boiled wool
Similar to wool felt but not as dense is heavy flannel coating. Check out that purple!

wool twill
I really love wool twill for a nice dense coating. Wool twill comes in many weights, so make sure it’s heavy enough to give the structure this coat needs.

wool twill
Here’s another nice, heavy wool twill – this one is from Marc Jacobs!

wool coating
Classic wool coatings, such as this dark turquoise solid coating will also work, as long as they are stiff enough to give the effect you want.

plum coating
This plum coating is pre interfaced!

velvet
Looking forsomething a little more fancy? Up the luxe factor with this italian velvet.

metallic brocade
Another great fabric option for this pattern (one that I believe Meg is using for her coat – although hers is this beautiful double-sided brocade!) is brocade. I love this metallic brocade!

brocade
Also, this floral brocade if you’re dying to stand out a little more.

silk brocade
Or you could go all out with this bright pink ribbed silk brocade, because YES.

FOR WINTER-WEIGHT COATS WITH A SOFTER DRAPE:
silk wool
How gorgeous is this silk wool? This fabric would give you a much softer drape than the ones above – think less of an exaggerated bell shape for the skirt and sleeves, and softer folds at the arms.

cashmere
Of course, you can’t go wrong with black cashmere coating – a true classic!

cashmere-wool
Doesn’t this wool cashmere coating just look SO snuggly? It’d be like wearing a blanket 24/7.

boiled wool
For a lighter wool weight with a very soft drape, consider boiled wool. I just love this bright purple color!

FOR A LIGHTER-WEIGHT COAT:
cotton twill
Those of y’all with milder winters – no worries, I’ve got ya covered! You have a few options for making this coat in a lighter weight, while still retaining the dramatic shape. First up – consider cotton twill! I love this organic cotton twill – especially that hot pink color, yes! – but any cotton twill will work as long as it’s heavy enough to hold it’s shape. Try to avoid anything with lycra (or any stretch), as it will make sewing this coat more difficult.

silk faille
You could also make a very beautiful, very dressy lightweight coat out of silk faille.

cotton sateen
Want the shine of the silk without the price tag? Try cotton sateen – again, be sure you are getting one with no stretch and a heavier weight.

denim
I’m thinking this coat would also look really cool (in a super casual way) if it was made up in denim! Am I crazy? Give it some gold topstitching and brass buttons and it’s like the fanciest denim jacket in the world. This heavyweight Theory denim even comes pre-interfaced!

Obviously there are many, many more options for coating – including non-natural fibers (I’m not linking these because I personally don’t like to wear or sew with polyester anything! Sorry!) – but this should be enough to get the ideas flowing. In the meantime, let’s talk about underlining and contrast fabrics.

FOR UNDERLINING AND/OR CONTRAST:
For my coat, I knew I needed to underline with something because I’d otherwise have a difficult time pulling the coat on. I initially thought about using silk chaurmeuse, because I just love it, but ultimately decided to stick with the stiff drape theme and use silk taffeta. Silk taffeta is also recommended for all the contrast (as is chaurmeuse, but just between you and me – I don’t recommend the latter. Unless you just looove sewing bias chaurmeuse binding; in that case, don’t let me stop you!), so I actually bought two colors. I love silk taffeta! Obviously, you can use poly taffeta if that’s all your budget allows – but I like the added warmth that silk provides, so that’s why I went with that. Anyway, if you are underlining – you will want to buy the same amount of underlining as you are coating fabric. For contrast, buy whatever the pattern instructs you to buy.

silk taffeta
Check out this kelly green silk taffeta from Oscar de la Renta! Swanky! For something a little more understated, there is also this caviar black silk taffeta from Ralph Lauren.

poly taffeta
Love the look of silk taffeta but hate the price? There are also some beautiful polyester taffetas available, including this cool checked taffeta. This coat really isn’t suitable for plaids as the outside fabric – but as far as the contrast is concerned? Go for it!

For those of y’all who are not underlining and only need contrast for the binding, you might also consider shantung or dupioni. On a super budget? Check out cotton sateen.

Another thing to consider with the contrast fabric – there is contrast on both the outside of the coat (for the bound button holes, belt, and pocket), as well as the inside (bound seams). Keep in mind that, while the pattern is written for all contrast to be the same fabric – you don’t have to sew your coat that way. Use the fancy stuff for the outside, and bind the inside with something fun (even a woven cotton, if that’s your thing.). You’re the designer here! Just make sure to swatch so you know that you like the way your contrast looks next to your main fabric.

Couple more things, while on the fabric subject!
– Concerned about warmth, but don’t want to make the coat too bulky? Stick with natural fibers (wool coating, silk underlining) and consider interlining your coat with silk organza for an additional layer of warmth.
– Found your dream fabric but it’s just a *smidge* too drapey? Get some good interfacing and block-fuse that baby! Fashion Sewing Supply has a great super crisp interfacing, or even fusible hair canvas. FYI, this coat does not call for interfacing at all – so you only need to buy it if your fabric requires some extra heft.

Whew! I think that’s enough fabric talk for today. For sticking through it this far, I’ve got a discount for ya! Use the code “lladybird1013″ to get 10% off your entire order at Mood Fabrics (not including PV codes or dress forms). This code is good through 10/13/14, so you’ve got time to swatch :)

I promise I will share photos of my fabric as soon as I receive it (still stalking the mailbox, daily. Ha!). In the meantime – what about you? What fabrics are you eyeballing? Do you have any fun ideas for the contrast? Is your coat a lighter weight? Let’s talk!

One last thing – time to announce the Sewtionary Giveaway winner! Lucky number generator says:

winner1

winner2

Congratulations, Jin! Crossing your scissors apparently worked :) I’ll be in touch to get that book out to ya asap :) Everyone else – if you’d like to pick up your own copy of the Sewtionary, you can order a signed copy at the Sewaholic website. The Sewtionary is also available on Amazon!

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Completed: Some Tshirts!

26 Sep

Oh hey, head’s up – this post is all cake and no frosting. No apologies, though! Lord knows I can never have enough Tshirts.

Rather than bore y’all with a bunch of posts featuring patterns I’ve made before, though, I’ve compiled a trio of 3 different tshirt patterns – ranging from Free to You Gotta Pay For That Shit – for science and comparison purposes. Who doesn’t love a good Tshirt debate, amirite? Also, I took these pictures before I redyed my hair, fyi. Just in case you were curious, haha.

LET’S TALK ABOUT TSHIRTS NOW, GUYS.

Plantain Tee

First up is the Plantain Tshirt, from Deer & Doe Patterns. This is that free pattern I was telling y’all about. This is a great beginner tshirt pattern – there aren’t a lot of pieces, it includes some new techniques for beginners (such as sewing the neck binding), the instructions are very clear, and the fitting is quite loose at the bottom. I was initially afraid that I wouldn’t like this shape on me AT ALL, but I’m surprised at how much I love it!

Plantain Tee
Plantain Tee

Even though it’s a free pattern, I think it’s far from being a “crappy” pattern, if that makes sense. The sizing is perfect – I sewed up a straight 34, with no tweaks. I used the last scraps of my black merino wool from Organic Cotton Plus to sew this up – I like how the wool gives the bottom some structure (and the wrinkles? Not as much a fan of those, but I’ll live :P). And it’s SO COZY. Cozy tshirts, FTW!

Plantain Tee

I did make a couple of changes to the design of the pattern itself – the main one being that seam that runs down the front and back of the top. This was done out of necessity, as I didn’t have enough fabric to cut on the fold. I simply added a seam allowance and created a CF and CB seam. I topstitched the seams so they’d look more intentional, ha. I also added cuffs to the sleeves – because, I dunno, I like them! There’s a bit of piecing at the neckline binding as well. Since I was making this out of leftover scraps, I didn’t have a long enough piece to cut continuous binding. I don’t think it’s that noticeable, and hell, I’ll deal with some seams if that means I get a merino wool top out of it amirite.

Stripey Renfrew

Next up is my tried-and-true tshirt allstar – the Renfrew from Sewaholic Patterns! I LOVE this pattern, a fact that I believe is pretty well documented. Renfrew is favored by me because I think it most resembles what we think of when we think of a tshirt – slightly fitted, set-in sleeves, and 3 neckline options (in addition to the scoop, there’s also a cowl and a v-neck), as well as sleeve length options. The pattern is written to have a band of self-fabric at the sleeve cuffs and hem, in addition to the neckline. I’ve found that I prefer to hem my tshirts (rather than use the fabric band), and some of the more casual ones I like to hem the sleeves as well. One thing to keep in mind – should you decide to join me in my tshirt anarchy – is to add that length to the sleeves and hem before you cut them out. Otherwise, they might end up short! Ask me how I know about THAT ;)

Stripey Renfrew

Fitting-wise, this is a great pattern, although I did make a lot of tweaks to get to the point I am now. It’s been a long time since I tweaked, but if I recall – this is a size 0, with additional ease removed from the waist. I also shortened the shoulders a smidge and made them slightly narrower. All those tweaks paid off, because this is a pattern I reach for again and again when I need a tshirt. At any given time, if you see me in a tshirt – ask me if it’s a Renfrew, the answer will probably be yes! Seriously! Oh, and my fabric is a striped ponte from Mood Fabrics (the store, not online).

SJ Tee

The last top in this trifecta is the SJ Tee from Papercut Patterns. Another new-to-me top, and I admit this is more like a sweatshirt than a true tshirt (but mostly due to fabric choice). It’s kind of like a sexy sweatshirt, tbh – raglan sleeves and WHOA SCOOP NECK. Forreal, make this in something too stretchy and you’ll end up in boobie city. Again – want to ask me how I know about that? :) haha!

SJ Tee

I’m surprised at how much I like the fit of this, considering that I don’t normally go for things so loose. I did end up taking the CB in by about 1″ – I’d already sewn the neck binding in at that point, so the seam runs clear from the bottom to the top of the binding, oops. But that made a HUGE difference in the fit, especially at the back. I used the size XXS and – other than the chunk taken out of the CB – it’s relatively unchanged. Oh, and I did shorten the cuffs so they’d look more like a sweatshirt. The fabric I used here is the last of my wool knit from Mood Fabrics (the same knit I used to make my grey Jenna cardi), and I had JUST ENOUGH. It’s amazing how much I love such a simple sweatshirt, by the way – I’ve been wearing it every night. It’s so cozy!

Here are the three patterns as modeled on my form:
Plantain Tee
Plantain Tee

Stripey Renfrew
Renfrew Top

SJ Tee
SJ Tee

I think it’s really interesting how something so simple as a damn tshirt can yield such different results, based on pattern and fabric choice. These are all pretty basic designs in the grand scheme of things, but they’re different to stand on their own. Obviously there are many, many more tshirt patterns out there (off the top of my head, these come to mind: Ensis, Briar, Bronte, Coco, and Lord, don’t get me started on dresses that can be hacked into tees), but I stuck with these three because I feel they’re the most basic/versatile. Also, let’s be real – if I fall down a tshirt rabbit hole, it might be months before this post sees the light! Ha!

Stripey Renfrew

Out of all these, I think my favorite is the Renfrew, just because it’s so damn versatile and I love how it fits (not to mention, the slim fit is ideal for layering). It might also have something to do with the Renfrew being my first love – can’t ever abandon her now ;)

I can’t stop thinking about that SJ tee too, though – I already have some future plans for her, including camel-colored boiled wool. Yum!

Plantain Tee

What’s your opinion on tshirt patterns? Do you have a favorite – and if so, dish please!

(psst! Don’t forget to enter the Sewtionary Giveaway, if you haven’t already done so! Entries close on Monday morning!)

Sweaters & Skinnies for Fall!

24 Sep

Ok, I’ll admit – when I first started working on this outfit, the air was a LOT more fall-like than it currently is at the moment. Stupid fickle season, ha!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Anyway, I’m totally a trooper so I’m modeling this outfit for y’all nonetheless (photos taken early morning before the temperatures got too high, because, woof.). My first real cold-weather makes – like I said, it’s a little early in the season here, but I like to get a head start so I can actually start wearing this stuff when the weather cools down :) This outfit – or at least the skinnies – is also part of my London wardrobe. I’m officially less than 2 months out, EEEEEP! – so it’s time to really start cranking down and getting my wardrobe act together. Since I’m very limited in suitcase space, I’m trying to capsulate everything to mix and match. So I can bring less clothes, so I can bring home more fabric :) You know – priorities!

ANYWAY, I have a lot of ground to cover with these two pieces, so let’s get started! Sorry in advance for the big photo overload!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Let’s start with the sweater. I bought this fabric last month while I was in NYC. This was my first non-spring trip to the city, which meant my fabric shopping was focused on woolens and winter weights (instead of summer fabrics, which I am usually bee-lining for in March). I immediately found this star printed WOOL sweater knit, and promptly flipped my shit over it. It’s SO fabulous – and soft! Even softer than you can imagine, forreal. At $25 a yard, it wasn’t the cheapest sweater knit – but stars and wool? Totally worth it. Plus, it’s not like a sweater takes a lot of yardage – at least not for me. I bought a yard and a half (and I have some leftover.. hmm, what to make with?).

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

The pattern I used to make this bad boy was actually suggested by Devra (who also bought some of the prized star wool knit, after I peer pressured her into it ;) ) – the SJ Tee from Papercut Patterns. I made a wearable mock-up before the real deal – which I will show y’all later this week – so I was able to figure my fitting before cutting into my precious wool knit. I cut a size XXS and took 1″ out of the center back. The length is the long version (aka, not cropped) and the sleeves are long as well.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

I used rib knit to finish the neckline and cuffs – it was in my stash, I have no idea where it came from. This knit was way stretchier than the sweater knit, so I had to keep retrying the neckline to get it to lie flat. I ended up cutting the rib to half the length of the neckline and stretched the everloving shit out of it – it could still stand to be a little tighter, but this will do. The neckline also can’t stand to be a little lower, it’s already a little risque (which I LIKE!). The cuffs are a bit looser than I’d prefer, but I wanted to be able to push the sleeves up, like so.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

I sewed the entire sweater on my serger – you could use a sewing machine (this particular knit does not unravel or shed), but serger is faster :) I did use a twin needle to topstitch the raglan lines, as well as the neckline & hem. Really loved topstitching this sweater; the stitches just sink right in and look soooo good!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

For the black skinnies, I used a really great stretch twill. I’ve had some hits and misses when it comes to stretch bottom weights – they tend to be a weird weight (either too heavy, or not heavy enough), and the stretch can bag out over time. One thing I’ve learned is that you need a pretty high spandex/poly content to get them to snap back into shape – 5-10% – and you need to make sure they are bottom weight. I actually made Heather Lou source this fabric for me, also in the Mood store. We were initially looking for black denim, couldn’t find a good one (I still don’t really know what constitutes as a good one- you’ll have to ask her! I just blindly followed, ha), and decided on the twill. We did end up finding a black denim, fyi, but not at Mood. Once I sew that one up, I’ll share more about it :)

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Anyway, this twill is great! It’s pretty similar to what you get with stretch RTW pants – thick enough for a bottom weight, but not tooooo thick (I still only used an 80/12 needle, so no heavy denim shit or whatev). The stretch is crazy good, and it actually snaps back into shape. I can’t give y’all a true verdict on a full day’s worth of wear – the weather jumped back up to hot, so I haven’t had a chance to wear these yet. However, I tried the jeans on a LOT during construction, and they haven’t bagged out yet. So that’s a good sign!

The only drawback to this stuff is that it attracts cat hair like a magnet. It’s not as bad in real life as it is in photos (else I would have lint-rolled that shit, I mean, come on), but it also doesn’t bother me that much. When you have a cat and you wear black pants, cat hair is sorta just a way of life, you know?

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

The pattern I used to make the skinnies is the Jamie Jeans, from Named. I’ve actually had this pattern in my stash for a few months – my friend Carla bought me these (plus a few other Named patterns) as an early birthday gift earlier this year. Then I was a total ass and didn’t do anything with them until just now :P Hey, it’s been too hot! Anyway, I’m glad I put these off because there is no way I would have had such stretch twill success if it hadn’t been for Heather doing that side of the shopping for me. So there’s that.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Anyway, this was my first experience with Named. My understanding is that a few things have changed since they initially released this pattern – for one, the instructions include some diagrams now (they used to be text-only), and the prices are a little more competitive. The pieces also aren’t quite as overlapped as they were the first go-round – because, ugh, tracing patterns, ugh. I only had to trace the waistband for these. Everything else was, thankfully, not super overlapped.

I started with the size 2, and made these initial modifications, based on my muslin:
– Added 1″ to the back crotch, for butt room
– Removed 2″ of length at the legs
– Removed 5/8″ at the center back yoke, blending to 1/4″ at the bottom (where the pants meet the yoke)
– Removed 1/4″ from the center back, blending to nothing

Once I started sewing, I ended up doing a few more fit adjustments. I don’t know why these weren’t prevalent in my muslin – perhaps my fabric wasn’t quite stretchy enough? At any rate, these are my additional modifications (and now you know why I pulled them on and off so many times!):
– Sewed the side seams at 1/2″
– Took a 1″ wedge out of the center back of the waistband, tapering to nothing at the bottom
– Removed an additional 3/4″ from the length
– Did some crazy witchcraft to reshape the crotch to be a J (again, NO IDEA why this wasn’t an issue with the muslin, but argh – at least I fixed it? Mostly.).

Things I will change for my next rendition:
– Need to remove some length from the front crotch – you can see that it’s slightly too long (it’s not toooo bad – I doubt anyone will point and be all “HA HA YOUR CROTCH IS TOO LONG HA HA!” But I know it’s there and hey, it bothers me, ok?). Maybe 3/8″ish.
– Rescoop that J a little more out of the crotch. It’s still not perfect, but it’s damn good considering that I did this while the pants were already mostly assembled (for those of you who are all, “Wtf is this J crotch you keep talking about?” Here’s the post where I talk about my pants adjustments, including J crotches. Also, in case you were wondering- those crotch rulers *do* work. I found one in Elizabeth’s studio last week, immediately stuck it on my crotch – and hey, there’s a J! Cool!)
– Need to take a little pinch of fabric out of the inner leg seam – maybe 1/2″

Despite my nitpicky fit adjustments, these aren’t so bad! I’ll still totally wear the shit out of them, at any rate.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Constructing these was REALLY fun! The instructions – honestly, they’re kind of useless about 70% of the time, but I’ve made enough pants to where I don’t really need them. The seams are all finished with my serger – except the crotch seam, which is flat-felled – and I made use of my edgestitching foot to get all that beautiful topstitching. For the waistband, I used fusible tricot knit interfacing – I fused both the outside and the facing, to give it some stability but retain that lovely stretch. The button & jean zip are both from Pacific Trimming in NYC.

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

I really love the back pockets! And hey, that double line of stitching at the yoke? That was done with a single needle, twice. No twin needle!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

For the hem, I used the lightning bolt stitch, so it would retain some stretchiness. It looks pretty similar to a straight stitch, but it, you know, stretches.

What else? Here are some sweater close-ups:

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics
Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

YUM!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

One last thing – here’s the little watercolor fashion illustration I made for this outfit. GOD, I love painting watercolors! So much fun!

Jamie Jeans + SJ Sweater Made with Mood Fabrics

Ok, I guess that’s it! Now if the cooler weather could please come back – I hate working up a sweat while I drink my morning coffee :) Oh, and in case you were wondering – that’s a fresh dye job you’re looking at, in regards to my hair! I love how neon electric is is :) Yay for fun-colored hair!

PS: Ralph Rucci V1419 Sewalongers – in case you missed it, there’s a new post up on the McCall blog regarding the sewalong. Just some general housekeeping, including blog buttons (yes!) and social media chat. The burning question this week – for general sewalong chat outside of our blogs, do y’all prefer to use a Facebook page or a Flickr Group? Trying to decide which platform to us. Let us know which side you swing!

TUTORIAL + GIVEAWAY: The Sewtionary (+ last week’s giveaway winner!)

22 Sep

Sorry, y’all, I’m in giveaway overload this month! Can’t help it if my friends are releasing awesome shit all at once, you know?

Adobe Photoshop PDF

I’m sure most of y’all have heard all about this fabulous little book by now – The Sewtionary, written by Tasia of Sewaholic (one of my FAVORITE sewing pattern companies! Seriously, some top 5 shit right there). A couple of months ago, Tasia reached out and asked if I’d like to be a part of her Sewtionary Blog Tour to help promote the book. While I do realize that blog tours can be a little redundant if you read the same blogs over and over (I know I can sometimes get jaded at looking at the same photos/reading the same gushing daily for 2 weeks or whatever), I really wanted to help promote this book because I really do give a shit about Tasia and her business. She’s one of my friends, and I like to do things for my friends. Plus, the book is beyond excellent- a great resource of 101 sewing techniques, written out like a dictionary. The photos are beautiful, each technique includes why it’s necessary (something my nerdy brain just loves), and it’s spiral-bound, so it’ll lay nice and flat on your sewing table. Lots of wins here!

Anyway, that’s about as much of a review as you’ll get from me (if you want a true review, definitely check out some of the tour stops that I’ll be linking at the bottom of this post!). Today, I wanted to do something different. I’m going to share a tutorial from the book with y’all .Everyone likes tutorials, right? :)

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway

Today’s tutorial: Making a Tailor’s Ham & Seam Roll.

First up – you’re probably thinking, “What the hell are these things and why the fuck would I spend my time making them?” Well, I’m so glad you asked! Both are used as pressing aids – the Tailor’s Ham is a big pillow-shaped tool that is used for pressing curved areas (such as darts and necklines), and the Seam Roll is a long, narrow stuffed tube that is used to press hard-to-reach seams (such as the inside of a sleeve), as well as a helpful way to avoid making seam allowance impressions on the right side of your garment. While I have a Tailor’s Ham that I’ve used for for years (and no lie, my cat literally uses that shit as a pillow when she naps on my ironing board), I’ve yet to get a Seam Roll. They are both great to have, but can easily cost you $20+ a pop when you buy them from the fabric store. So here’s where we learn to make our own – at the delightful price of FREE NINETY-NINE. You heard me!

You will need:
– Large scraps of wool fabric & cotton fabric. Try to choose something with a dense weave that does not stretch, that is 100% (aka – no poly blends!). I used leftover wool coating from my Vogue Coat and black quilting cotton.
– Something to stuff it with. Traditionally, these things use sawdust. You can also use cedar shavings (from a pet supply store), wool fabric scraps, or even old nylon stockings. For the purposes of this tutorial, I am using sawdust. It is *extremely* messy. It is also extremely free. No lie, I just waltzed right into my local Home Depot and asked for a bag of sawdust, back where they cut wood to spec. I can’t speak for other countries (Tasia tells me that you can’t sell sawdust in Canada, say whaaaat), but here in the good ol’ US of A, lots of hardware stores will give you free sawdust because they would otherwise throw it away. My sawdust man also informed me that it makes a nice mulch for the garden. Isn’t that handy!
– Sewing machine, thread, and hand sewing needles.
– Outdoor space, or a really really good broom. I told you, this shit was messy. You have been warned.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway

Here are the instructions, Sewtionary-Style. Told y’all that book is just lovely.

Now here are my steps.

TO MAKE THE TAILOR’S HAM:

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
I found it easiest to start with a paper pattern piece, since the shape is so weird. You’ll want to make your ham 14″ long; 10″ wide at the wide end and 8″ wide at the narrower end. This will result in a bit of an egg shape.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Using your paper pattern piece, cut one egg from both the wool and the cotton.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Pin the pieces, right sides together, leaving a nice 5″ gap at the wide end. PROTIP: Whenever I’m sewing something that requires an unsewn gap, I mark each end with a double pin. This reminds me to stop sewing when I get to the double pin! Otherwise, I’ll just keep going my merry way and complete the circle, which is exactly what we don’t want right now.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew around the entire circumference of the ham, again leaving that 5″ gap at the wide end. Make sure it’s 5″, too – you’ll need the room for stuffing (don’t make it more than 5″, or you’ll hate yourself for it).

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Turn the ham right side out.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Ok, time to get messy! Take that ham outside and start stuffing your stuffing in it! If you are using sawdust, expect a big mess that will get everywhere.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Instead of just quickly trying to fill the ham with sawdust, take the time to pack down the sawdust with each handful. The narrow end of the ham especially needs to be packed pretty tight, or else it will collapse. Once you’ve packed it down, work on the next section and pack that. Again – this IS messy, and it will take longer than you think, because sawdust loves to pretend it’s tightly packed when it’s secretly not. You want the ham to be pretty hard so it will retain it’s shape. When you think it’s full – keep stuffing. Then stuff some more.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
In the meantime, here’s a photo of my cat glaring at me for daring to sit outside without her, haha.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Once you are sure the ham is packed as tight as it can go (Are you sure? Are you sure you’re sure?), it’s time to sew it up!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Holding the ham between your legs (do as I say, not as I do – don’t set it on the ground; you don’t want to push the narrow end back in!), turn under the seam allowance on one side and lap it over the opposite side. Using a tight whipstitch, sew the opening shut by hand.

Next, you’ll probably want to beat the shit out of your ham (if it’s covered in sawdust like mine, anyway). I just pounded mine against the porch railing until all the dust was knocked off.

This post is turning into one long “That’s What She Said” joke, isn’t it?

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
End result: Completed Tailor’s Ham!

TO MAKE THE SEAM ROLL:
How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Unlike the Tailor’s Ham, I didn’t bother making a pattern piece for this one – I just drew it directly on my cotton with a Chaco pen. Draw a 14″x5″ rectangle and round the four corners.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Cut one of each of these rectangles from both your cotton & wool.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew the two rectangles, right sides together, leaving a 5″ opening in the middle of one long side of the seam roll (I have no idea why I don’t have a photo of this, but I trust you can work this step out). Turn the roll right side out.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Time to stuff that bad boy!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
As with the Tailor’s Ham, really stuff and pack each long narrow end before focusing on the middle of the roll. This will ensure that your roll is nice and tightly packed, and hard enough to hold it’s shape.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Once you’ve packed the roll nice and tight with sawdust, turn one seam allowance under and lap it over the opposite side of the opening. Sew this closed by hand.

Again, you’ll probably want to beat the shit out of that thing to get all the dust off. Be aggressive! Honey Badger Seam Roll don’t care!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
And here’s the finished seam roll!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
And here’s my new pressing family! Yay!
BTW, be sure to save some of that remaining sawdust – once you use the ham or seam roll, you may find the sawdust settling and thus need to be repacked to firm up the shape. Unless you just really love having an excuse to go to Home Depot – in that case, don’t let me stop you.

GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED
All right, I promised y’all a giveaway so let’s get on that. To win your own copy of the Sewtionary, simply comment on this post and tell me your favorite sewing technique. Are you a freak about pressing (high five!) or is sewing patch pockets your thing, or…? You tell me! This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE and I will close the entries a week from today, on SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 AT 7:00 AM CST. Good luck!
GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

If you’d like to buy your own copy of the Sewtionary, you can pick up a signed copy at the Sewaholic website (or a boring ol’ unsigned copy on Amazon). Thanks so much, Tasia, for letting me be part of this book tour & for generously donating a copy to giveaway!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway

Want to read some more Sewtionary reviews and/or enter some more giveaways? Check out the full blog tour here:

ONE LAST THING – We have a giveaway winner to announce! Lucky number generator says:

winner1

winner2

Donna, you’re a winner! Is this now offically the second time I’ve made your Monday exciting? :) Congratulations! Sending your email now!

Everyone else (and there were a lot of y’all – nearly 400 entries, wow!) – I’m not turning you away completely empty-handed. Kat has generously offered a coupon code, which is awesome! Use the code LLADYBIRD to get 15% off the purchase of the Jenna Cardi from Muse Patterns, good through 9/29. Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway! Y’all are the best :D

Completed: The Aiken Sweater

19 Sep

Yay for finished knitting projects!

Aiken Sweater

This is the Aiken pullover from Andi Satterlund (aka my faaaavorite knit designer, to whom I should probably just establish a direct deposit of a portion of my paychecks, because, YES). Aiken is everything I love in a knit project – seamless, top down construction, knit in the round on worsted weight yarn, with just a little bit of lace to keep things interesting.

Aiken Sweater

Aiken Sweater

I knit the XS (size range goes up to 3X, whoop whoop), using my normal size 6 needles and this delightfully soft and squishy Debbie Bliss Rialto yarn (oh shit, I just realized this is 100% Merino and here I’ve been telling everyone who will listen that it’s Cashmerino… I’m a lying piece of shit, you guys. But really, it is SOFT). By the way, I LOVE these Debbie Bliss yarns. This is the second sweater I’ve knit up with ‘em (the first one being my Cashmerino cowl neck sweater, well, I reckon there’s where I was assuming this one also involved cashmere, ha), and they’re just so lovely and soft with the most beautiful saturated colors.

The Debbie Bliss yarns are kind of expensive, though – around $10+ for a 100 yd skein (compared to Cascade 220, which I think I pay around $11 for a 220 yd skein at my local yarn store) (yes, I know it’s a little cheaper online, but I want to keep my LYS in business, thanks, bye). With that being said – my favorite yarn shop – Haus of Yarn – has an awesome sale at the end of every year where they mark a big chunk of the yarns at half off – and there’s always some Debbie Bliss lurking in the piles. So these skeins were $5 a pop, which made this sweater cost me a very affordable $30. Can’t beat that with a stick!

Aiken Sweater

This pattern is relatively plain – the body and arms are plain stockinette, with 1×1 ribbing at the edges. The neckline is a very simple slash – it’s not finished with ribbing, so it has a soft roll, which I think is very pretty! And then there’s the lace inset, which is mirrored for both the front and back. As far as lace goes, this one is preeetty simple. It’s not super mindless lace like the Myrna – there’s a little more stitchcraft involved. I did have to unpick a couple of rows when I missed a yarn over and thus messed up my count, but it’s not so bad. The good news is that you start at the top, so you get the longest part done first and then progress to less lace knitting as you go down to the tip of the V. Then you combine the whole thing into a tube and knit in endless circles for the rest of the way.

THEN, because there’s no neckline finishing or button bands to contend with – you just block it and wear it! SO gratifying! OMG I love knitting pullovers!

Aiken Sweater

My sweater is worn with about 1″-2″ of negative ease, which is why it’s a little more fitted than the version in Andi’s shop. The lacework surprisingly doesn’t dip as far as I thought it would – I’m not wearing anything under the sweater (well, I mean other than a bra haha), and there’s absolutely no danger of cleavage flashing. That being said, I don’t have much cleavage to begin with sooo that might also have a lot to do with it :) I really like to way it looks with my polka dot trousers, though! I imagine it’ll also look pretty ace with a collared shirt underneath it. And it’s the perfect length for wearing with high-waisted skirts.

Aiken Sweater

(not sure why I basically took the same picture twice. Deal with it?)

Aiken Sweater

Love the back! ♥

Aiken Sweater

Aiken Sweater

It took me a little over 2 months to knit this – which is slow for me, but has also become my new normal, if that makes sense (gone are the days of my luxurious one hour knitting break at the office – I still have an hour to knit, yes, but I’m usually home and DAMMIT I’d rather sew! :)). It was a relatively easy knit, and I think would make a great first sweater pattern if you’re somewhat comfortable with knitting lace.

Full Ravelry notes are here.

Aiken Sweater

That’s all, folks! Right now I’m working on my first pair of socks (I haven’t gotten to turning the heel yet, so I’m going to refrain from commenting on whether or not they’re easy until I get to that point! But so far, the cuff has been easy :) HAHA) – but I’m still dreaming of sweaters! What should I knit next? Would love to do another pullover; I’m a little cardigan’d out at this point :) Looking at Berwick, Ease, Cloudy Sunday (maybe lengthen those sleeves, tho), or Praline – what would you choose? Alternately – what’s on your needles right now?

(Psst! Not a knitter but want some handmade cardigans nonetheless? Don’t forget to enter the Jenna Cardi Giveaway for a chance to win an awesome cardigan sewing pattern PDF! Giveaway ends on Monday morning ;) )

Announcing the Vogue 1419 Sewalong!

17 Sep

Hey guys and gals! Remember this coat we all made fun of?

V1419

Then remember when I tried it on and realized it was actually amazing?

"Yeah, like the girl in the $10,000 coat is gonna hold the elevator for the guy who doesn't make that in four months." #COMEON #gobbluth #ralphrucci #thisreallyisa10kdollarcoat #voguepatterns #latergram

YAY $10K DESIGNER COAT!!

Well, here’s the thing. I want this dang Ralph Rucci coat for my very own – and I want to make it. After chatting with The McCall Pattern Company – and realizing that a lot of y’all are hankering for your own Ralph Rucci Dream Coat – we’ve decided to partner up together and host a sewalong for Vogue 1419! LET’S ALL MAKE FANCY DESIGNER COATS, Y’ALL!

Vogue Patterns V1419 Ralph Rucci coat pattern sewalong

The sewalong officially kicks off on 9/29, which gives you plenty of time to buy your pattern and begin sourcing fabrics. Don’t worry – the first couple of weeks will be nice and slow, with tips on fabric selection (and yes, I’m working on snagging y’all a sweet discount!), muslin-making, and prepping all your pieces so we can dive straight into sewing in mid-October. We will finish our coats on 11/10, with a finished coat parade on 11/17. The sewalong posts will alternate weekly between here and on The McCall Pattern Blog, so make sure you’re following both!

Keep in mind that while this is a coat pattern – it’s not a traditional tailored coat, so there will be no scary pad stitching or lining (although I will be underlining my version, so we’ll have some tips on that as well :) ). While I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to a true beginner, I think a super adventurous/advanced beginner could probably swing this – just make a muslin, take your time and aim for accuracy! We’ll be photographing every step, which will make construction easier (and of course, the posts will be up indefinitely if you decide that you need to revisit your couture coat dreams at a later date :) ). The McCall Pattern Company has lots of interior shots of the coat in this Pinterest board if you want to see more of the deets. It’s a really beautiful coat that lends itself to lots of fun customization!

Here’s the full schedule of events:
9/22/2014 Social media: official hashtags, Flickr group, Pinterest board & blog badges
9/29/2014 Selecting your fabric
10/6/2014 Making your muslin
10/13/2014 Prep week: cutting your fabric; marking your pattern pieces; underlining (if applicable); creating bias binding; reinforcing and staystitching (Steps 1-3 and step 35)
10/20/2014 Attaching the gusset, binding, belt & side seams (steps 4-22)
10/27/2014 Sewing the sleeves & back (steps 23-50)
11/3/2014 Assembling the pockets (steps 51-63)
11/10/2014 Finishing: Facing, button holes, buttons, and hem (steps 64-86)
11/17/2014 Parade of coats

I know that sounds like a lot of work for each week, but keep in mind that most of the steps involved are instructing you to sew bias binding. Those of us who have made unlined bias bound coats before know that once you get into a groove, it’s not so bad :) Plus, I don’t want this to drag on forever! I want to take my coat to London, dangit! :)

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Ready to join in the coat-making fun? AWESOME! Don’t forget to buy your pattern – there’s a sale going on right now through 9/19, yay! – and make sure to follow The McCall Pattern Blog if you’re not already doing so. Next week, we’ll have all the official badges and hashtags so you can pretty up your blogs :)

In the meantime… who’s in? What’s your dream Ralph Rucci coat look like? I’m currently manhandling some of the most gorgeous red wool coatings, can’t wait to make this baby up! :)

Completed: The Jenna Cardi (+GIVEAWAY)

15 Sep

In my wardrobe, I have a very small selection of RTW clothing that is quickly dwindling to nothing. Out of those pieces, the majority of them are lightweight knit cardigans. You know the kind I’m talking about – sewn, rather than knitted, lightweight enough to throw in a purse, wearable for all seasons (I dunno about y’all, but I wear my cardigans throughout the summer – air conditioning is tooooo cold for me!). As I’m quickly replacing all my clothes with handmades, the one major hole – other than undergarments (which I’m working on!) – has been those damn cardigans. I love knitting cardigans, don’t get me wrong – but those take loads of time, not to mention even the lightest fingering weight yarn can’t compete with how lightweight a knit fabric is, you know?

I’ve been on the lookout for a good cardigan pattern – not even really for the pattern itself, but rather, the instructions. Y’all, the one time I tried to sew button holes on a knit, it ended up being slightly traumatizing. Then there was that time recently that I tried to use an old RTW cardigan to copy into a handmade one (cutting it apart to use as a pattern – same concept as how I made my striped hoodie). Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out at all. Clearly I can’t hack this on my own. I need someone else to do it for me.

20121202-210149

Also, that cardigan I chopped up? As much as it wasn’t really my favorite – it was the one grey cardigan that went with basically everything. And here it was, chopped up into little bits and, uh, I kinda needed it back.

Jenna Cardi

Anyway, all that being said – right about the time I realized I was making a huge mistake (chopped up cardigan and all), Kat emailed me, saying she’d just launched her new pattern company, Muse Patterns, and would I like to try and review the Jenna Cardi?

UM. YES.

Jenna Cardi

HI GUYS, LOOK, DREAM CARDI PATTERN RIGHT OVER HERE.

Jenna Cardi

The Jenna Cardi comes with a few different options, so you mix and match to create the cardigan of your dreams (I’m not the only one who dreams about cardigans, am I?). You can choose a cropped or waist length version, sleeves ranging from full, to three quarter, to short, and then there’s also an option to include a beautiful curved yoke detail.

I’m a boring person with no imagination when it comes to wardrobe basics, so I chose something plain and simple for my first hurrah – cropped length, long sleeves. The thing about this cardigan that makes it so special, though (I mean, other than the fact that I SEWED IT MYSELF yaaaay for not buying RTW!), is the fabric I used! HOMEGIRL GOT HER HANDS ON SOME MERINO WOOL.

Jenna Cardi

Are we all still freaking out about merino wool or has that ship sailed? Whatever, *I’m* still freaking out over it! Ever since Katie started pushing it on me like an extraordinarily effective drug, I have been trying in vain to locate a US source. That stuff isn’t cheap, even in the best of times – and to ship it all the way from NZ obviously adds some dollarz to the cost.

So where did I find this golden merino ticket, you might ask? Surprise – Organic Cotton Plus, of all places! They are starting to branch out to include other natural fibers than just cotton, which is all kinds of awesome. When they asked me if I’d like to try a little piece of whatever caught my fancy from the website, I stumbled across the merino wool and, forreal you guys, my heart stopped for a nanosecond. There aren’t a whole lot of options on the site at the moment – just the black I have here, as well as a natural colorway (which I almost got, but then the idea of dying that shit seemed too overwhelming. Plus, black is so useful! Even if it photographs like crap). At $33 a yard, it is not cheap – but it’s worth it. That black merino is a whopping 61″ wide, plus, IT’S MACHINE WASHABLE WOOL. Oh, and you don’t pay NZ shipping prices! Win win!

Jenna Cardi

Having used both merino wool from Organic Cotton Plus, as well as the stuff straight from New Zealand – I can confidently say that this is pretty good stuff. It’s soft and lightweight without being see-through, it has a nice stretch and drape to it, and it cuts and sews like a dream. Wait till you see the topstitching on this baby – it’s ridiculously beautiful. Ahh I just love this fabric.

Jenna Cardi

The only downside I can think of is that it does wrinkle up a bit, as you can see in these photos (it’s not nearly as noticeable in real life – otherwise, I would’ve steamed things up before taking photos. Womp whomp, deal with it). Kind of the same thing as linen – just natural wear wrinkles. If that bothers you, you’ll want to stick to something with a poly blend. For me, though, wrinkles are an ok trade-off for natural fibers!

Jenna Cardi

Anyway, I loved my Jenna cardigan so much – I immediately made a second one!

This one is pretty boringly similar to the black merino one, except it’s longer. It’s not quite the longer version – I cropped some off for my proportions – but it does look better with the shirt I’m wearing underneath it, ha :) Instead of using merino wool, I used some wool knit that I picked up at Mood Fabrics when I was recently in the store. This stuff is less drapey than the merino – it’s almost like sweatshirting, except without a fleecy side. It’s also not machine washable, so there’s that. I’ll have to handwash it like I do all my hand knits, oh well.

Jenna Cardi

Sewing both of these was ridiculously easy, by the way. My second version took me all of 2 hours – not bad! I made the bust 32″ and took in the sleeves a bit because they were a little wide. I also had to shorten the sleeves by a couple of inches.

As I mentioned, I was pretty apprehensive about the button bands – but surprisingly enough, the button holes were way less problematic than I was anticipating! I made some test button holes – experimenting with interfacing, tear-away stabilizer, no interfacing – but ultimately went with the instructions, as I figure Kat knows more than I do when it comes to knit button holes :) The button band is stabilized with woven fusible interfacing, and it’s sewn on with a 1:1 ratio (meaning it’s not stretched at all). This gives the knit fabric enough heft to tolerate a button hole stitch without getting eaten into the bobbin area (my former experience with this sort of thing). For the black merino cardi, I also used tear-away stabilizer in addition to the interfacing. For the grey cardi, I skipped the tear-away stablizer and just kept things purely interfaced. Both worked out splendidly!

Jenna Cardi

Another thing I’ll point out is that, while these cardigans are somewhat fitted, there’s just enough ease included to keep the button bands from gaping open. Always a plus in my book!

Jenna Cardi

Jenna Cardi

I’m thrilled that they both look just as good unbuttoned as they do buttoned – which is important to me, as a cardigan-wearer. I usually button things up, but it’s nice to have unbutton options:)

Jenna Cardi

Jenna Cardi

Here are some ~extreme~ close-ups of the merino wool cardigan. Check out that topstitching! Ughhh it’s so beautiful! I did add a little more topstitching than called for in the pattern – I wanted to tie in the topstitched button bands and button holes, so I included it at the shoulder seams and along the bottom band. Plus, it’s just beautiful. Seriously.

Also, how bout them buttons? These are also from Organic Cotton Plus. I know black and brown is generally frowned upon as a color combination, but I like it :)

Jenna Cardi

Grey cardigan close-up :) Boring buttons are from my boring stash.

So what do you think – are you team sew-your-own-cardi yet? I hope so, because Muse Patterns has hooked me up with an extra pattern to giveaway! :D

Jenna Cardi

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
To enter to win your very own Jenna Cardi, just leave a comment on this post and tell me what you plan on makin’! Which view? Any particular fabric? Do you have a wild card up your (cardigan)sleeve? Inquiring minds want to know! :) This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE and I will close the comments a week from today, on MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2014 7:00 AM CST. Good luck, y’all!
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

**Some disclosures now – I was given the Jenna cardi pattern from the patternmaker herself, for free, to try and review. I was *also* given the organic merino wool fabric & butons from Organic Cotton Plus, again, for free to try and review. The grey wool knit was purchased at Mood Fabrics NYC out of my own pocket. No one paid me for this post – I’m just doing it for the freebs! As always, all opinions are my own :)

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