Completed: White Graphite Sweater

20 Oct

I started this sweater back in Feburary, which gives it the title of Longest WIP Ever (for me, anyway). Not because it was complicated to knit, but rather because I put it on the backburner several times in order to work on new and shiny projects. Yep, I totally broke my own personal rule about UFOs! But I did finally complete this unfinished object, so I’d reckon that it’s all good :)

White Graphite Sweater - front

For this sweater, I used the Graphite pattern, and knitted up a size XS. Based on my gauge swatch (can you believe I’m still faithfully knitting these before starting a project?! Mostly because I told myself I would turn all those swatches into a blanket eventually. Despite all my swatches, it’s still a pretty tiny blanket haha), I went down a couple of needle sizes to an 8. The pattern has you knit the ribbing with an even smaller needle – in my case, that would be a 6 – but I didn’t do that with this sweater because I totally forgot. Oh well!

White Graphite Sweater - front

Oh, by the way – Kevin Pancho piggy is back in some of these pictures. Everyone say hi to Kevin! She’s currently in the process of invisible fence training, hence her collar. Kevin loooves rooting around in the woods a little too much (like, she disappeared for over 2 hours more than once!), so we had to take some measures to keep her safely in the yard. Training is going a lot more smoothly than it was at the beginning, but man, is that pig stubborn!

White Graphite Sweater - side

White Graphite Sweater - side

Anyway, enough about that pig! Back to my sweater!

I used Plymouth Yarn Homestead for this, purchased from my local yarn store, Haus of Yarn (actually, since I moved, I have a new local yarn store! More on that when I get around to posting projects from the stuff I’ve bought from there, though!). This yarn is 100% wool, Aran weight, and Haus of Yarn only had the natural colors. I don’t know why I gravitated to this off-white – it’s beaaaaautiful on the skein, but not really so much against my face. Ugh. Me and my visions of white sweaters, the endless mistake.

White Graphite Sweater - back

This sweater also gave me the stark realization that I need to pay more attention to suggested yarns for my patterns. I know this is a VERY obvious thing for me to admit, but I have never really given much thought to the suggested yarn, other than weight and ply. I just always stick with 100% wool, regardless of what the pattern tells me to use. Since I don’t really knit patterns that require a different fiber (for drape, or stitch definition, or what have you), this hasn’t posed a huge problem, but it does limit me. I think this sweater would look a lot better if I had used a yarn with a little more drape, like the suggested Debbie Bliss merino. Just something to keep in mind for my next sweater!

White Graphite Sweater - back

As for the pattern, I knit it exactly according to the instructions, with no further fitting adjustments. It has a nice fit, I think – form-fitting without being snug, and it skims over the body. I do think it’s a bit too long, though! It does not look bad in these pictures, but I prefer a little more of a crop with my sweaters, since I wear my pants so high-waisted (I think it looks weird to have high-waisted pants and a long sweater! Or maybe it doesn’t look weird, but it certainly feels weird!). But, the almost butt-skimming length will work in my wardrobe. I can totally wear it with leggings and pants with a lower rise.

White Graphite Sweater - front

Like I said, the pattern was super super easy. This would be an easy first sweater project – lots of endless stockinette in the round. It’s knit top-down, and you make increases for the raglan sleeves and then separate those stitches from the body. From there, you knit in an endless tube to make the cool broken rib knit pattern (which, again, SUPER easy. Just knits and purls!). After you knit the ribbing and bind off the bottom, you knit the sleeves (putting the live stitches on the needles, rather than picking up bound-off stitches as with traditional set-in sleeves). Since they are raglan, there’s no sleeve cap to knit – you just knit an endless circle. Finally, the neckline is picked up and knit with a rib pattern. Easy!

White Graphite Sweater

White Graphite Sweater

Blocking the thing (where you wash it and lay it flat to dry, pulling it into the desired shape and size) really made a difference in the finished sweater! Not only did it set the stitches and make them nice and flat/even, but it relaxed the yarn and gave it a nice drape. Where the raglan sleeve “seam” (really just a series of increases) ends, there was a poof right over my armpit when I put the sweater on. Totally not a good look. After blocking, though, that relaxed into a soft little fold, which I can live with.

Doesn’t that yarn look so delicious and swishy!? YAY.

Ok, I don’t have anything else to say about this project, so here are some pictures of me trying to make friends with Kevin. Whatever, I know y’all are just here for the pig.

KEVIN PANCHO

Holy shit, I look like I’m balding in these pictures hahahahah. I swear that’s just the flat spot I get from sleeping haha. Oh lord!

KEVIN PANCHO

I’m glad I finished this project and can finally put it to rest! While I’m not crazy about the color on me, I think I’ll like it with a colorful collared shirt underneath it :) (I did consider dyeing it, but then decided… nah. Haha!). What’s on your knitting needles these days? What’s your favorite wool sweater yarn? I’m about to cast on for my next sweater, but I’m always looking for new projects to add to the queue!

Completed: The Stacie Jean Jacket

16 Oct

Hot on the heels of my 70s denim skirt and Cone Mills Ginger jeans, I have ONE MORE denim piece to share with y’all and then I swear I’m done (well, for now anyway haha). I made a jean jacket! Skirt, pants, jacket – my dreams of wearing a full Canadian Tuxedo are finally realized :P

Stacie Jean Jacket - front

I have wanted a new jean jacket for several years now. I had a really ace one back when I was a teenager – it fit just the way I liked and the color was spot on. I covered it with patches, buttons and pyramid studs (again, I was a teenager) and wore it for nearly a decade. It even survived Hurricane Katrina – not without a few new mold-induced holes, but y’know, ~punk rock~ or whatevs. I actually still have it, but it’s pretty old, and I’m definitely not cool enough to wear it anymore. Anyway, that was the best denim jacket. Denim jacket #2, the desperate replacement, was fairly subpar and primarily bought out of necessity rather than because I actually liked it. It never fit right, and the wash is one of those weird faded green-indigos that always looks dirty. It’s gone through a couple of alterations to both size and length, which somehow made it look both better and worse at the same time. I’ve been wanting to replace it for years, but it seems like all the stuff I find in stores has a really odd fit or is pre-destroyed/ripped/faded, which I’m not a huge fan of. And while I’ve never been opposed to making one myself, I never came across a pattern for one. Well, until now, anyway!

The pattern is the Stacie Jean Jacket from Style Arc patterns. I’ve never sewn a Style Arc pattern before – although I’ve heard wonderful things about them. They’re a bit expensive to ship from Australia, and you only get one size with your pattern (and since it’s a new-to-me company, what if I get the wrong size arghh). All that being said, Style Arc now has an Etsy shop, where you can download PDFs that come in packs of 3 sizes. Praise! Not to mention, as someone who abhors taping together a bunch of pieces paper, the PDFs are pretty small and easy to manage. You can only print one size at a time (they aren’t nested), but it does make it easier to see what lines to cut and reduce the anguish of wasting a bunch of paper on sizes larger than you need.

Stacie Jean Jacket - front

ANYWAY, all that unnecessary backstory behind, I bought the 4/6/8 pattern and printed/cut the size 6, which was based on my measurements on the size chart (finished measurements aren’t given with this pattern, so that was a big ol’ element of trust right there! Well, not horribly because I did make a muslin!) I waffled a little bit before actually sewing it up – or even making a muslin – because the instructions are SO SPARSE. I don’t feel like I need a bunch of hand-holding in my sewing these days, and I rarely even look at the illustrations in an instruction book anymore, but man alive there is literally like, a paragraph, for making the whole coat. All the sentences are really brief, and there are no reminders for stuff like finishing seams or what direction to press them in. No diagrams at all, unless you count the topstitching guide on the second page. Seriously, the instructions are 3 pages long – the first page is the cover, and the last page is the topstitching guide. And half of the second page is a map of all the pattern pieces. So yeah, not a lot of hand-holding with this one! Do you ever look at a new pattern (sewing or knitting) before starting it and get overwhelmed with all the direction since it’s a bit out of context? That’s how I felt about this pattern. Woof. I knew a muslin would be totally necessary, not just for fit, but also to make sure I understood how to put the dang thing together. I was NOT about to spend my weekend ripping out topstitching.

Stacie Jean Jacket - side

It wasn’t until I was in Maine, teaching at the bomb-ass A Gathering of Stitches for my sewing retreat last month, that one of my students (appropriately named Staci ;) ) showed me her Stacie Jean jacket. It was absolutely beautiful and I was immediately inspired. She reassured me that the jacket was easy to construct, and that the sizing was accurate. So, as soon as I got home, I started on my muslin.

I’m really glad that I took the time to make a muslin, because I ended up needing to make some changes around the armscye. I tried to take photos to share in this post, but you can’t really see the fitting issue. I could certainly feel it, though! The armscye was totally the wrong size and my arm movement was severely restricted. I could barely reach in front of me, and everything pulled at the bicep. I googled around and tried to figure out how to fix this issue, but that was hard since I wasn’t really sure what was causing the problem to begin with. Finally, I just sliced the sleeve out of the arm hole and re-pinned and sewed and added fabric scraps to the holes until things started to feel right. I also compared the pattern piece to my current denim jacket (which, although I’m not happy with it as a whole, I will say at the arm holes fit really well hahaha). Look at this!

Stacie Jean Jacket - pattern adjustments

So, clearly, the arm holes were WAY too big for me. Once I figured this out, I was able to adjust the pattern pieces to be the correct (smaller)size for me, plus reduce the height of the sleeve cap so that it would fit the new arm hole. Using a combination of my pinned/basted/pieced muslin pieces and the existing jacket, I added in paper to raise the underarm and add more so that the arm hole didn’t cut too far away from my actual underarm. I also added about 1/4″ to the shoulder, since it seemed a bit narrow on my muslin.

Also, totally wearing my muslin in that photo. Ha!

Stacie Jean Jacket - pattern adjustments

Stacie Jean Jacket - pattern adjustments

Stacie Jean Jacket - pattern adjustments

I wish I could give y’all specific directions or a link to a tutorial on how I figured all this out, but it was really a matter of pinning and basting and ripping and trying things on over and over until the fit felt right. I can’t even really share photos because this was a fitting issue that was more focused on the way the garment felt, rather than how it looked. Sorry! I will say that I used this post to figure out how to reduce the sleeve cap, but the arm hole itself was pure trial and error.

While I was rooting around in pattern malarkey and destroying arm holes, I also made a few more fitting changes based on the rest of the muslin. I removed 2″ from the length of the jacket, because I liked the length of my muslin without the bottom band added. I also removed a buuuuunch of length from the sleeves – as drafted, even with the turnback, they were a good 2″ too long. However, I also wanted to add a proper cuff (the pattern has a deep sleeve hem so you can turn it back, but I wanted an actual cuff with a button and placket), so I removed another 2″ at the bottom. I drafted a simple cuff (lol “drafted,” aka I drew a rectangle on some paper) and added a little bit of width at the bottom of the sleeve hem to accommodate the placket.

After all was said and done – I made a second muslin to verify that all my changes didn’t completely ruin the pattern. Everything worked! Yay!! Finally, time to cut into some denim!

Stacie Jean Jacket - back

My denim is a piece I’ve had squirreled away in my stash for a couple of years now. I bought it at one of the big Imogene + Willie yard sales, and it’s a beautiful heavy, high-quality selvage denim. I got about 4 yards for $5 (whoop!). I tried to make jorts with it last year (that was a big ol’ fail btw), then realized I like my bottoms to have a little bit of stretch, which this denim has none of. I’ve been hanging onto this yardage for way too long considering I didn’t know what I’d do with it, but a denim jacket is a pretty perfect project for this kind of fabric. Of course, I’m used to my old jacket being so soft now, so the stiffness of this new one feels really off. I may wash it a few times to try to soften it up.

Stacie Jean Jacket - front

Muslin horrors aside, sewing this jacket was super fun! Like I’ve mentioned before again and again, I really enjoy working with denim and I love all the detail that goes into sewing jeans (or denim jackets, for that matter ;) ). It’s a good thing I like topstitching, because this jacket has a LOT of it. Fortunately, there is a topstitching guide included in the pattern, which shows you diagrams of where to put what. I also had my old jacket out for reference, which came in handy with that sleeve placket. There is no interfacing in this jacket, although I did put a narrow strip in the facing behind the button holes and buttons – just to stabilize it a bit. It’s not the entire width of the facing. The collar and everything are uninterfaced. Over time, everything should wear in and soften up really nicely.

Stacie Jean Jacket - front

I primarily added the cuffs + placket because I like to wear my sleeves rolled up. The sleeves on this pattern are certainly wide enough to do this without needed a cuff that opens, but I just didn’t like the way that felt. I’m glad that I made the changes to the sleeve, but now I kind of feel like the sleeves are a bit too loose-fitting. The sleeves on my RTW jacket are definitely a lot tighter. That being said, I also can hardly wear a long sleeve top under that jacket without some serious bunching, so I’m going to hold off and wear this jacket around a little before I decide whether or not to narrow the sleeve. I would kind of like to be able to wear a sweater under this. The jacket is sewn with the sleeves inserted flat, then sewn up the side seams like how you’d do a tshirt (interestingly, the sleeve head has no ease whatsoever), so reducing the sleeve width will be pretty simple if I decide to do that in the future. Well, I’ll have to remove the cuff and redo the placket, but I’m sure I can manage.

Stacie Jean Jacket - front

One thing I wish this jacket included is pockets for those pocket flaps! Alas, they are merely mock pocket flaps – they don’t open to anything (or, rather, they don’t open at all – that shit it nailed shut straight through the button ahahaha). My RTW jacket has little welt pockets under the flaps, which I wanted to copy, but trying to figure out those sewing steps – in addition to the sleeve changes and all that fitting drama – was making me feel dizzy so I opted to keep it pocket-less. Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve never used those pockets on my jacket. So it seemed kind of pointless to go crazy adding a pocket I didn’t even need.

Stacie Jean Jacket - front

Topstitching!! My favorite!! I used a denim needle and some lovely jeans topstitching thread for all the topstitching. I actually just used a single needle to get the double topstitching – one the first pass, I used my edgestitching foot with my needle moved all the way to one side, which made the stitching line 1/8″ from the edge. For the second pass, I used my 1/4″ foot and centered it on the first stitching line. I’m sure you could use a twin needle for this, but I don’t have any that could handle that heavy denim and thread. Plus, I don’t mind the extra work of sewing the same lines twice :)

Stacie Jean Jacket - front

Stacie Jean Jacket - back

Sorry these pictures are so blown out! Honestly, all the photos on this post are bad, but I don’t care enough to retake them :P

Stacie Jean Jacket - cuff and placket

Stacie Jean Jacket - cuff and placket

Here is the sleeve placket. Based on the placket of my RTW jacket (and also, Landon’s denim jacket haha), it is just a little extension cut out at the bottom of the sleeve. Maybe 1/2″ wide and 2″-3″ high. You sew the sleeve closed up to wear the placket starts, then turn under the extension twice and topstitch it down. The cuff is literally just a rectangle.

Stacie Jean Jacket - inside

The inside of the jacket is sewn with black thread (I have two sewing machines so I can use both when I’m making anything with jeans – one is threaded for piecing, and the other is threaded for topstitching) and the seams are serged.

Stacie Jean Jacket - inside

More frustrating than the fitting conundrum was sewing these FUCKING button holes! LORD!!! I can’t even tell you how many I had to rip out – my machine just plain did NOT want to put button holes in this jacket! Working on those things legit drove me to drink that day. At least I finished, them! And then I got to hammer out my frustrations with the buttons, which is always a plus :) The buttons are some of the bag of 25 that I bought from Taylor Tailor, btw!

Stacie Jean Jacket - inside

Finally, I added this little hanging loop to the center back neckline, to make the jacket easier to hang! It’s just a little strip of the selvage, folded and topstitched and crammed into the collar seam :)

Stacie Jean Jacket - back

Overall, I’m really pleased with how the jacket turned out (well, other than the width of the sleeves, but I’m gonna sit on that and see how I feel after I’ve worn some long-sleeve shirts under it. I might feel differently about it in a couple of months!)! Despite all my fit-bitching at the beginning of the post, I think this is a great pattern and I definitely recommend it if you’re looking to make your own denim jacket and can be adventurous about the lack of instructions. While I did indeed have problems with the arm hole fit, I googled the shit out of this pattern and haven’t come across anyone else with the same fit issues. This leads me to believe this is a fit issue specific to my particular body shape, and not an indication that the pattern is terrible. Just need to put that out there!

Will I make this pattern again? You bet! I’d love to do a shrunken version in white denim, maybe for next spring :)

Completed: Fancy Cone Mills Ginger Jeans

9 Oct

I’ve been swimming through muslin hell this whole week (crazy me decided to even make a SECOND MUSLIN to verify all my changes, wtf who am I turning into amirite), but fortunately, I have an old make from pre-Maine that I can share with y’all! Jeans! Yay!

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans - frontCone Mills Ginger Jeans - front

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans - front

Remember when we were all scrambling around to buy those fancy Cone Mills Denim kits with our Ginger Jeans earlier this year (and last year too, for that matter)? I’m so happy that I made space in my budget for one, because Cone Mills denim is awesome. It’s the same denim they used to make Imogene + Willie jeans (which I can personally vouch for as I own 2 pairs – they wear really well and hold their shape beautifully, which means I never need to wash them in order to shrink ’em back down at the end of the day), and although the kit wasn’t cheap – it is certainly cheaper than buying the actual jeans. By the way, if you’re thinking, “Where the hell is this kit so I can buy one???” I’m sorry to be the one to tell you that they were on limited pre-order, and have been sold out for a while now :( Hopefully there will be more where that came from!

EDIT I have just been informed that Threadbare Fabrics sells Cone Mills Denim! Yay!! I apologize in advance for those who end up emptying their bank accounts after reading this post :)

Anyway, the point of that somewhat sales-y sounding paragraph was to say that I finally used one of the pieces of my denim for this pair of pants. I received the kit way back in April and have been anxious to sew it up, but I wanted to wait until it was actually something closer to pants-season before I got too excited.

Also, just a head’s up before we delve too far into this post – sorry in advance for all the weird bobble-head shots. I didn’t realize my camera was tilted so much, and I don’t care enough to retake the photos. Also, there be VPL in most of these pictures. Not sorry about that! Deal with it!

deal with it

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans - side

The denim itself is what really counts when it comes to a good pair of jeans. You want a material that is a good medium weight (not too light, but also not too heavy) and if it has stretch, an awesome recovery. The single thing that’s plagued me the most when it comes to making my own pants is finding material with a good recovery! I hate having my pants bag out by the end of the day – it’s annoying enough for every day life, and utterly useless if you’re traveling and don’t have access for a quick wash (or just plain don’t own a washer and dryer, which was totally my situation up until we moved this year!). Plus, washing denim too much can fade out the color and cause the fibers to break down faster. I like my jeans to be a really deep, dark indigo blue, so fading isn’t my first choice. Figuring out fabric recovery is really difficult to do without actually wearing the fabric – which means you have to sew it first. So whenever someone gives me a head’s up on some good stretch bottomweight, I tend to snap it up without hesitation. I knew the Cone Mills denim was good stuff, so I’m glad I was able to get my hands on some before it sold out.

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans - back

This certainly is not my first pair of Ginger Jeans – I’ve made a classic indigo denim pair, a red cotton twill pair, a gold denim pair, a version of jeggings and shorts version. What can I say – when I like a pattern, I tend to stick with it :) And I REALLY like this pattern – it’s a nice, classic jeans pattern with all the good details you see in store-bought jeans, minus the shitty denim and strange fitting issues.

Having made this pattern numerous times made me feel confident enough to break into my mega-expensive denim for the pair you see here. I knew I already had the fit pretty good, so I could focus more on visual details with this version. That being said, there are a few changes to this pair that aren’t evident in my previous makes.

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans - front

The biggest change is that I went up one size, to a 4. While I like the fit of the 2 (all my other Gingers are 2s, fyi!), I’ve gained a little bit of weight over the summer and I got this weird paranoia that I was in denial about my size. Those 2s are great and super comfortable, but the legs are so tight that they look painted on. I was horrified at the thought of people thinking I was trying to squeeze into a too-small size, so I went up to the next size. I think the 4 definitely fits better, but the are a little different. Namely – those wrinkles at the knee. What is the deal with those? The calves aren’t too tight (they are looser than the tightness on my 2s, and my 2s don’t wrinkle like that), so that’s not the issue. Maybe they’re too loose at the knee and need to be taken in a bit? Thoughts? Btw, the wrinkles look worse in photos than they do in real life!

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans - side

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans - back

Since I was going up one size and I don’t trace, I had to reprint the pattern. I know Heather updated the Ginger jeans pattern at some point last year, and I had both an original version (that I got when it was first released) and an updated version (that came with my purchased denim kit). I printed the new version so I could try it and compare to the original one. I don’t recall exactly what changes were made to the jeans, but there are some slight differences in the rise and the shaping around the crotch and hips. The waist is definitely a lot higher than it is in the original version – and this was after I shortened the crotch. The major difference in the updated version is the pocket bags – instead of normal jeans pocket bags, there is a drafted pocket stay (also called an instant tummy tuck).

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans

With a pocket stay, the pocket bags go all the way across the front into the fly. This helps pull everything in and give you a smooth line in the front (hence the tummy tuck name). I wasn’t sure if it would be comfortable, but I tried it anyway and I’m glad that I did! I don’t care about smooth lines or whatever (I mean, c’mon, I’m basically always rocking dem VPLs. Death to thongs!), but what I do love is that the pockets stay in place when you pull your pants on. You know how tight pants always have to get the pockets shoved back down after you go to the bathroom? Not with these babies! Plus, since the pocketing isn’t folded over anywhere, there isn’t a weird bump at the coin pocket. I never was a fan of that.

Damn, shoulda pressed those insides before taking the photo. That fly shield wrinkle looks awful.

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans - front

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans - side

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans - side

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans - back

All the topstitching and jeans-y details are what really made these fun to sew up! I just love the way jeans topstitching thread looks when sewn up against denim, so good. I kept my I+W jeans on hand and used their stitching colors as inspiration for this pair (here’s an old post where I took close-ups of the jeans right after I bought them, if you’re curious). The kits came with the zipper, button, rivets, copper topstitching thread and denim needles. However, you can buy all that stuff individually as well – Taylor Tailor has most of it in his supply shop for really reasonable prices. I did buy the orange topstitching thread from Taylor Tailor, which I think looks awesome next to the gold topstitching.

Now that I’ve overloaded you with pictures of my butt and crotch, here are some flat jeans shots.

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans

As you can see, I used the orange topstitching thread pretty sparingly – just for the bartacks and belt loops. I can’t say I thought of this myself, as I pulled the inspo straight from my I+W jeans. They also use a third topstitching color in the second line of stitching, which is not something I did with this pair. Also note that the I+W jeans don’t use rivets, but I did use them here. I love hammering those things in and I think they really finish off the jeans nicely. I just kept them on the front pockets and coin pocket – I don’t like the look of rivets on the back pockets.

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans

Again, using my I+W jeans as inspiration – I flat-felled only the back yoke seam, and serged + topstiched the leg seams (this will make it way easier to take in the legs if I need to, so yay!). I used orange thread in my serger, which mimics the orange bartacks. I LOVE the way it looks!

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans

Whew! Sorry about all that cat hair!

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans

This is my absolute favorite little detail of these pants – the side leg bartack is a little L for Lauren :) On my I+W jeans, they have a little + sign on one leg in place of a bartack, and I thought, hey I can do that with an L. It’s only on one side, and it’s quite subtle unless you already know it’s there.

Cone Mills Ginger Jeans - side

Welp, that ended up being a super long post! Do you see now why I love making jeans so much? All the little details are so fun and make the end result look extremely professional. Not to mention, all the customization options – from fit, to denim, to topstitching details. I’m so glad Heather released the Ginger pattern and I’m even happier than we were able to get some of that fancy-ass denim to make it up with! I still have one more piece for one more pair of jeans – and I’m thinking I might do the low-rise version next. Could be fun!

New Vogue Sewing Patterns: Winter 2015

5 Oct

If you haven’t heard, Vogue Patterns just released a new collection of sewing patterns a few days ago. I haven’t had a chance to really sit down and take a look at them as I’ve been out of town the last week (where I had a wonderful time teaching in Portland, Maine, and hanging out in Boston with Jenny. Couldn’t have asked for a better week! Hope to post more about it later :) ), but man, this was a nice welcome back. Ha.

Surprisingly (or not, depending on your stance with Vogue), most of the patterns in this collection are relatively tame (and a few are even sorta tasty). I’m a firm believer that winter clothes are far superior to summer clothes (layers and cozy wools and tights and scarves and don’t even get me started on sparkly holiday dresses, wheee!), which may have something to do with my opinion on the new pieces.

V1475
Vogue 1475 // Badgley Mischka
Like this shiny piece of opulence. Ain’t no place in my life for a sparkly evening gown, but man, I really like this. I even like the fabric – I think it works really well with the style of the dress.

V1474
Vogue 1474 // Tom and Linda Platt
Or how about a bias floor-length gown made in a yummy silk charmeuse? Yes, please!

V9145
Vogue 9145 // Claire Shaeffer
YOU CAN JUST GET ON MY BODY ASAP.

V1468
Vogue 1468 // Nicola Finetti
Obviously there’s nothing particularly ground-breaking about this design (and I’m starting to get sick of the exposed metal zipper trend on EVERYTHING, sorry not sorry), but I like all the options for colorblocking and using different textured fabrics. Also, do I spy a new designer in the line-up?? YAY.

V1477
Vogue 1477 // Sandra Betzina
Love knit tops with interesting neckline detail like this.

V1479
Vogue 1479 // Isaac Mizrahi
I know these oversized coats are supposed to be really trendy right now, but they’re just a little too 80s-Power-Career-Woman-With-Strong-Shoulders to me.

V9160
Vogue 9160
“Excuse me! My eyes are up here!”

V1469
Vogue 1469 // Lia Lia
Even the skinniest model wearing the prettiest dress can’t escape a bad piping placement.

V1471
Vogue 1471 // Nicola Finetti
Really beautiful dress, but it should have been worn by a model with similar proportions. The waistline is way too high, yeesh. And if I’m way off my rocker and that’s the way the dress is supposed to look… double yeesh.

V9149
Vogue 9149
“We need to figure out a way to re-release this pattern but make it seem new.”
“What if we add a tail?”
“Say no more.”

Those were pretty tame. However, Vogue wouldn’t be Vogue without a little random fuckery thrown in.

V9159
Vgoue 9159
“You promised when making these pieces that you’d never wear the two of them together. The lie detector test determined that was a lie.”

V9153
Vogue 9153 // Marcy Tilton
I swear to god, every Marcy Tilton pattern is starting to look the exact same.

V9156
Vogue 9156
I totally had a pair of purple fuzzy zebra print pants when I was in high school. I guess this answers what ended up happening to them.

V9162
Vogue 9162 // Kathryn Brenne
I guess buttflaps are also making a comeback this year.

V9163
Vogue 9163
“Bitch, be cool.”

V1478
Vogue 1478 // Sandra Betzina
“Well, at least I wouldn’t skin a collie to make my backpack.”

V9164
Vogue 9164 // Kathryn Brenne
“I wish this was a hamburger instead.”

V1473
Vogue 1473 // Bellville Sassoon
Bellville Sassoon gives you wiiiiiiiings!

V9165
Vogue 9165 // Mary Jo Hiney Designs
This has to be the weirdest accessory pattern Vogue has ever released. Custom decorative boxes – complete with a notions list that rivals the entire stock of your local Joann’s. Also, the 9 year old me in is amused that the designer’s name is “hiney.” That is all.

And SPEAKING OF FUCKERY – I saved the very best for last!

V1472
Vogue 1472 // Zandra Rhodes
Every single thing about this outfit is insane. I couldn’t tell if that was a skirt or really low-crotch harem pants, until I looked at the line drawing – and was delighted to also discover that the look includes suspenders (to keep the skirt up, I imagine. That thing looks heavy af). And in case you don’t feel sexy when wearing an entire bolt of fabric, there’s a lovely midriff cut-out – the perfect space to allow for a little post-holiday-dinner belly expansion.

What did you think about the new Vogue collection? Anything gorgeous that needs to be a part of your wardrobe? Any random fuckery that makes you want to tear your eyes out? How do you like them new designers? Ahh, Vogue, it’s like you’re giving me Christmas 4x a year. I loves you.

Completed: The 70s Denim Skirt

22 Sep

First make of my F/W sewing plans is done and ready to wear! Before you think my sewing speed reaches world-record status (I mean, I’m fast – but I’m not that fast!), I should point out that I had this skirt mostly complete before my sewing plans were completely solidified. So I had a head start with this particular garment! I actually took a little longer than usual to make this (not that I’m racing myself or anything, ha), as I ended up getting sick that week, which put the whole project on hold for several days while I tried to rest up and recuperate. But anyway, it’s done and now I can wear it! Yay! The 70s denim skirt I’ve been waiting for!

Style 1559 denim skirt

It would appear that the 70s is back in this year, in a big, bad way. I am super excited about this! I loved that shit when it came back into style in the 90s, and I’m happy to see it’s back again 20~ish years later (no comment on feeling old and/or shouldn’t be wearing that shit the first time it came around. Duh, this is the second time, it cancels itself out). While I don’t really follow fashion or allow it to necessarily dictate what I choose to wear, I can say that it’s nice when something I love does go into style because that means it’s easier to source it! Of course, that doesn’t really matter so much when one makes their own clothes – using a vintage pattern, no less – but I’m excited to see what trickles into the fabric selection. :D

Anyway! I’ve seen a lot of this skirt style – mini a-line with a button front and jeans topstitching – and I knew I wanted one for my own wardrobe. Rather than deal with the heartbreak of buying vintage (where it’s never your size and/or the seller has some interesting ideas about what to price it at), I wanted to make my own. Actually, I always want to make my own! I’ve been thinking/lurking on this particular style for a couple of months now, and tried to figure out how I could hack an existing pattern from my stash into my dream denim skirt. Then I found this pattern, and it was pretty much exactly what I was looking for.

Style 1559 denim skirt

The pattern is Style 1559, which I bought on Etsy. It’s amazing how much this pattern encompasses everything I wanted in my skirt – a-line shape, side pockets with topstitching detail, button front, mini (ok, it’s not a mini but I can MAKE it a mini). The seller had several sizes, so I even got to pick what size I wanted! Etsy is awesome!

Style 1559 denim skirt

Style 1559 denim skirt

The pattern was pretty easy and straightforward to put together. The only thing I changed – other than the obvious length difference, which ended up being something crazy like 9″(I wanted to go even shorter, but I’m going to wear this around a bit as-is and see if that changes) – was that I made a pocket facing piece, so that I could cut the pockets out of lining rather than denim. This was really easy; I just used my Ginger jeans pattern pocket facing as a guide. I also added more buttons than what you see on the pattern – I wanted more, and closer together. Oh, and I added belt loops (just stole the pattern piece from my Ginger jeans). Otherwise, easy stuff! Not a lot to report on as far as that is concerned.

Style 1559 denim skirt

Sorry about the butt wrinkles! I took these after a full day of, well, sitting :P

I’m not totally sure how I feel about those back pockets. I added them for shits and giggles – they’re part of the pattern, and they look cute on the envelope. I am pretty sure they are not doing my butt any favors whatsoever, but I also don’t feel like ripping them out. Thoughts?

Style 1559 denim skirt

Style 1559 denim skirt

The denim I used is pretty legit, and also straight out of the 70s! :) One of my awesome readers, Jim, sent me a big ol’ piece of this stuff about a year ago. It took me this long to figure out what to do with it – it’s pretty thick and heavy with absolutely no stretch. Perfect bottomweight, but most of my pants have a little bit of lycra in them these days. I considered using it to make my denim jacket, but the color is a little light. However, it is perfect for this skirt. Totally a match made in heaven – in more ways than one. I love this kind of denim because it really softens up with washing and wearing, and the faded/worn look is even better looking than when it’s new.

Sewing this denim was as easy as you’d think. The cotton content meant that it pressed really well, and my machine handled all the layers without any problems. I used normal polyester thread to piece the seams, and denim topstitching thread for all the topstitching. The fishing is a mixture of flat-felled and serged seams, same as what you’d see with jeans. I really enjoyed playing with all the topstitching on this skirt; it looks reeeeeally good against the denim!

Style 1559 denim skirt

Random sidenote, but I also made my top! That’s a Agnes top, which I actually sewed up AGES ago (like, as soon as it was released) but then realized that it was way too freakin’ hot to wear anything with sleeves like that so I stuck it into the drawer in anticipation of cooler months. The fabric is a thick cotton knit that I picked up in the Garment District.

Style 1559 denim skirt

The buttons really make this skirt! I used smooth copper buttons, to match the gold topstitching thread, which I bought from TaylorTailor. I actually bought 25 of the things (what? They’re cheap haha), so stay tuned for more denim fun stuffs! As a side note – did y’all know that Taylor and I actually live in the same city? True story! We finally met irl for the first time at Trader Joe’s a couple months ago. I promise I tried to keep my fangirling under control hahaha.

Style 1559 denim skirt

Style 1559 denim skirt

Again, with those pockets! Argh! I think the thing that bothers me the most about them is the topstitching – the top line of stitching is too far away from the edge, and it looks derpy. I thought it looked derpy as soon as I finished stitching the first line… and then, instead of unpicking it, I kept sewing. At this rate, I’m fairly confident that I’ll never actually fix it. I’ll just complain about it.

Style 1559 denim skirt

That’s all for now! I’m off tomorrow to Portland, Maine, for my long weekend sewing retreat at A Gathering of Stitches, which I am SO looking forward to! Four days of sewing and talking sewing and living and breathing sewing in beautiful New England? Pinch me. Talk about an awesome weekend! Anyway, I’ll be gone until next Wednesday, so this blog will be quiet until then. See y’all next week!

Fall/Winter 2015 Sewing Plans

18 Sep

Well, I don’t know about where y’all are, but down here the temperatures have slooowly started dropping at night, which means I can finally start planning my fall/winter sewing without feeling like a total lunatic. I love this time of year – the change in seasons is a nice shift from the blistering heat (I feel the same way once spring rolls around, too, for opposite reasons. Change is good!), and, man, I love winter clothes. I love sewing winter clothes! Yay for wooly long sleeves and cozy necklines!

I don’t have a lot in the plans for this season – I want to focus on basic pieces that can be mixed and matched. I like the idea of having a more minimalistic approach to the way I dress – I already do this when I travel, and I’m working on dragging it into my every day life. I recently realized that I don’t really care if people see me wearing the same thing two days in a row. If it bothers then, that’s their problem, not mine. I want to spend my sewing time working on fitting and fine finishes and enjoying the entire process – not rushing to get to the next project. If that means making less as a whole, fine with me!

DRESSES:

sway dress
Papercut Patterns Sway Dress

Ah! I made this fun tent dress in a summery linen, but I really would love to make a winter version as well. I have a really nice black boiled wool that I think would suit the pattern nicely. It would be so cozy with black tights and a long sleeved turtleneck.

Emerald Wool Jersey Lady Skater

Kitschy Coo Lady Skater dress

I make this dress every year, and there’s a good reason why – it’s an awesome dress! The scooped neckline with long sleeves and slightly flared skirt is basically my perfect dress. And it’s made for knit fabrics, so it’s super comfy as well. I have a rad star knit from Lillestoff (which I can’t seem to find on the website now, wah) that I want to use for those one. And maybe make another with a cowl neck (like my ikat print Lady Skater from last year). The green one above is made with an emerald wool knit, which is pretty awesome too. Lady Skaters rock!!

BOTTOMS:

guise pants
Papercut Patterns Guise Pants

MAN. Ever since this collection was released, I knew I needed me some of these pants. My friend Carla gave me the pattern as an early birthday gift, so now I have no excuse! I’ve spent most of the summer looking for the perfect black flanneled twill to make these out of, and I think I’ve found it. Cozy black pants will be mineeee!

Ginger Jeans

Closet Case Files Ginger skinny jeans

I can always use more jeans in my wardrobe! The Ginger jeans that I made last year are still going strong and wearing well, but it would be nice to have a few more pairs. I bought one of the denim kits waaaay back when at the beginning of the year, so I am really excited to use that stuff for my next pair!

style 1559 Style 1559

Fuck yeah, there needs to be a 70s-style skirt in my wardrobe! Wouldn’t this be great in denim, with jeans topstitching and cut to a mini length? Wellllll, spoiler alert… I’ve actually already finished the skirt as of this writing (lolz), but it’s part of my ~fall plans~ so I’m including it here anyway dammit :P

TSHIRTS:

Seriously, though - how cute are the illustrations on these @vvvesta patterns?? ๐Ÿ˜โœ‚๏ธ๐Ÿ˜

Vesta Patterns Grail Tshirt

I always need more long sleeve tshirts! Really excited to try the Grail pattern – this one is drafted based on 3 different body shapes. I have a couple patterns to play with, and I promise to report back once I’ve made them up! Could be a nice staple for winter. And, as always, I have more Renfrews (especially the cowl neck!) and Plantains planned as well. Can’t ever have too many tshirts!

Geneva Raglan

Named Clothing Geneva Raglan Tee

I also want to make some raglans – specifically, the Geneva looks pretty neat! The raglan seam is a bit different than what you typically see on a raglan – I have a similar vintage tshirt that I really like the fit of, so I’m hoping I can knock it off with this. For fabric, I got a bunch of swatches of the awesome merino wools from The Fabric Store – just have to narrow down my selection to something budget-friendly! Those things add up fast! haha!

OUTERWEAR:

waver jacket Papercut Patterns Waver Jacket
I have SLOWLY been building up the supplies for this one! I ordered my coating a few months ago – this Dark Navy Aztec Print from Mood Fabrics, plus a matching navy silk charmeuse lining. And, of course, faux fur for the hood because yesssss. I am really excited about this little jacket! I think it’s gonna turn out really cool :)

STACIE-JACKET StyleArc Stacie Jean Jacket

I’ve been meaning to replace my sad old Gap jean jacket for YEARS now, but it’s been really hard to find one that I like (or a sewing pattern for one!). I just discovered this pattern, and it’s almost like this shit was made for me. Such a nice design, and all the finished versions I’ve lurked look super legit. This one is probably going to take some extra finesse for me to work through, as the instructions are pretty freaking sparse, but I think I can manage it if I make up a muslin first. For my final jacket, I have a nice piece of denim from Imogene + Willie that I’m hoping I have enough of.

oslo cardigan
Colette Patterns Oslo cardigan

Is this considered a Colette Pattern or a Seamwork Pattern? Either way – cardi! Yay!! I have a couple of fabrics I’d like to make this in – a soft grey/black slubbed double cloth and a cozy mushroom wool sweater knit (purchased from Mood Fabrics, but I can’t find it on their site now!). Perfect for lounging on the couch, or running outside to chase the pig.

INTIMATES:

carolyn pajamas

Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas

Oh yes – more pajamas! I love my linen pair, so of course I need a flannel pair for winter. My mom always buys me flannel pajamas for Christmas, but they never really fit quite right (the crotch is always way too low, or the legs are too long, or something else is wrong). So I’d rather make my own! I haven’t found a good source for cotton flannel fabric – any suggestions? Looking for something that isn’t super cutesy and preferably around $18/yard or less.

fifi

Tilly & the Buttons Fifi Camisole

A silk cami seems kind of silly for winter, but hear me out on this one! I always wear tanks under my sweaters – one, so I can strip down layers if I get too hot; and two, because it’s easier to wash a tank rather than a whole sweater. Rather than run to Target and buy some flimsy little knit tanks, though, I’d love to make some slinky bias-cut silk Fifis. Ooh la la!

KNITTING:

graphite

Graphite Sweater

This is kind of cheating, since I started this sweater at the beginning of the year (yeesh!). It went into UFO status for a few months, but I’m ready to finish it up and get to wearing it! Just need to knit the sleeves and the neck binding, and it will be done!

down east

DownEast Sweater

Then onto a big, squishy, bulky sweater! I already bought the yarn for this one, so there’s no turning back now. Ha!

 

Whew! Looking at all that seems like a lot – but you know I’m up for the challenge :D What about you? What’s on your sewing plate for the upcoming season?

 

Completed: Blue Lace Watson Bra

15 Sep

I’ve almost got my lingerie drawer in it’s happy place. Almost. Just a couple more bras on my list and then we are good!

Navy Lace Watson soft bra - front

I REALLY like these Watson soft bras! I think they are so pretty, and also oh-so-comfy. I’m not the sort of person who really finds bras uncomfortable – even underwired bras – as I like the feeling of support above all else. However, you can’t deny how comfy this soft bra is! It’s a good bra for lounging around the house on a lazy Sunday (which is exactly what I do most weekends) or even sick days (which is exactly the case today. Wah!). And while I have a few comfy Watson bras already in my bra drawer, I certainly don’t have one that is this pretty!

This is definitely the prettiest bra I’ve ever made. Just look at it!

Navy Lace Watson soft bra - close up

Always up for learning new finishing techniques, I wanted to try a few things with this lace bra. For one, I wanted to try an all-over lace band that incorporates the beautiful scallops at the bottom edge, instead of a picot elastic edge. All the bra patterns I’ve sewn thus far have been drafted for the elastic edge, but I see so many pretty RTW lace bras that use the scalloped edge and I was determined to try it out for myself. I also used the scallops on the edge of the cups, and experimented with a different way of finishing the scalloped edge of the cups. More on that in a second, though, because I want to talk about the lace that I used first.

I mean, the lace definitely makes the bra. I received this lace from the Tailor Made Shop on Etsy, right when Ying first opened up her shop back in June. It’s taken me this long to sew it up because I really wasn’t sure what to do with it – even the flat yardage is really really pretty. It took me a couple of months to decide how to cut the lace and use the scallops, and figure out how to finish everything so that the bra wouldn’t be too flimsy and would wear well. I’m glad I took my time with this, because I’m super happy with how it turned out.

Tailor Made has a lot of beautiful laces that are all suitable for bra making, as well as a selection of elastics, rings and sliders, underwire channeling – pretty much anything you need to make a bra. There are also kits, which I haven’t tried yet, but I’m really loving the color combinations that Ying has come up with. A lot of new stuff has been added since I first looked at the shop, and it’s all pretty awesome! I can confidently say that the quality of the stuff I received is really nice, and the prices are super reasonable. BTW, there’s a discount code at this bottom of this post – so either read on, or scroll to the bottom if you’re feeling antsy :)

Navy Lace Watson soft bra - back

Anyway, back to my lace (and bra in general)! I used the Navy & Silver stretch lace for the entire bra – cups, cradle, band – and cut it so that the scallops ran along the bottom of the band and cradle, and the inside of the cups (as drafted, the pattern piece for the cups is a bit too curved for lace scallops, but there is a tutorial on the Cloth Habit site about modifying your pattern piece to have a straight edge). The lace is pretty flimsy on it’s own, so I underlined every single piece with soft navy powermesh (I bought this when I was in Philly at the beginning of the year. It’s a bit less firm than I like for my bands, but it’s great for underlining to add some stability! And the color match is perfect for this lace). The cradle is lined with two layers of powermesh, going in opposite directions (the pattern calls for that areas to be first with no stretch, which I usually use tricot lining for that, but I didn’t have any in navy, so I tried the powermesh. Works pretty well! There’s a small amount of give, but it’s still pretty firm). The straps are made with this lovely floral picot edge elastic (didn’t get a good picture of them, but it has a faint embroidered floral design in the center and a picot edge on both long sides. It’s really pretty!), and I have white matte enamel rings and sliders as well. The rest of the supplies came out of my personal stash. Rather than try to match the navy lace, I just used white findings for everything and I think it looks really nice.

Navy Lace Watson soft bra - front flat

Navy Lace Watson soft bra - front flat close up

One thing that I really like about this lace is that the topstitching I did just sinks right in. You can’t even really see it, which makes the whole bra look really clean. And I love those tiny scallops! They’re so pretty. Cutting the lace to accommodate the scallops about did my head in, but it was totally worth it.

Navy Lace Watson soft bra - sewn elastic trim for scallops

So, here’s a little how-to on how I got the bottom scallop to work. With most bra patterns, they have you sew the elastic to the right side of the bra, then trim the fabric and turn the elastic to the inside, and topstitch (this is why you would use a picot edge; one side peeks out). This is a great finish, obviously, but turning back the elastic would mean turning back the scallops, so I lurked on some RTW bras at Victoria’s Secret and realized that they just sew the elastic directly the inside of the bra with two lines of zigzag stitching. Because my lace is underlined with powermesh, I cut the pieces to go all the way past the scallops, as shown, and then sewed the elastic to the inside of the bra with two lines of parallel zigzag stitching. I positioned the elastic so that the edge lined up with the innermost point of the scallop.

Navy Lace Watson soft bra - removing powernet from scallops

Then I used my applique scissors to trim the powermesh up to the elastic, leaving the scallops intact.

Navy Lace Watson soft bra - finished bottom elastic trim for scallops

Ta da! Here it is from the inside. Really easy! As a side note, my wide non-picot elastic is from, I think, Sew Sassy. I ordered a bunch of stuff from the site a few months ago, and was a bit underwhelmed with the quality of the majority of it. I don’t remember what this particular elastic was labeled as (either strapping or band elastic, I reckon), but it’s really ugly and I figured I’d never use it. However, it is perfect for this use here that I have discovered. Yay for stash hoarding! Haha!

Navy Lace Watson soft bra - back flat

For the cups, the scallop edge needs to be stabilized so that it doesn’t stretch out of shape over time. Also, since I underlined the cup with the powermesh, I needed something there anyway to keep the two edges together. I’ve used clear elastic in the past, which works okay, but it doesn’t look that great from the inside and it tends to bunch up a little. So I tried something new – I used the selvage edge from my powermesh as a replacement for the clear elastic. It’s really soft – way softer than clear elastic – and it still has a good amount of stretch. It’s also a perfect color match for the mesh, obviously, so it’s almost unnoticeable. It gives stability, but it doesn’t pull or bunch at all. I LOVE how it turned out. Don’t care if this is the wrong way to make a bra – I’m doing this with all my cup scallop edges!

Navy Lace Watson soft bra - inside flat

Navy Lace Watson soft bra - super artsy inside

Here are some more inside shots. I serged all my raw edges with a 3 thread overlock, so the inside is super clean.

If you want to see what this bra looks like on a real person, click here for a somewhat unflattering picture angle. Again, please don’t pin this image or anything! Posting this strictly for science purposes.

Now! If you love my Watson and want to try out Tailor Made Shop, you can use the code LLADYBIRD for 10% off! This code is good through 9/30/15, so get it while you can! Yay for discounts!

Navy Lace Watson soft bra - side front

One a completely unrelated note – WORKROOM SOCIAL is officially moving to a bigger space next month! Besides being exciting in itself, this also means that my Weekend Pants Making Intensive has a couple more spaces open! If you missed the chance to register when it was last announced, you still have an opportunity now. The class is November 7-8 and includes the pattern, use of machines and tools (you bring your own fabric and notions), and snacks, a catered lunch and cocktails on both days. You can read more about it on the registration page, or in this blog post. This class sells out pretty fast, so act now or forever hold your peace :) There are also some spots left for our Garment District shopping trip the day before (11/6), which is a nice addition to the pants class where you can check out the Garment District, learn about fabrics that are suitable for pants, and even buy the fabric that you will use in class.

Note: The blue stretch lace, white strapping, and rings and sliders were provided to me free of charge from Tailor Made Shop, in exchange for a blog post mention. All other supplies were purchased by me, and all opinions are all mineeee!

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