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Time For A Sewing Room Tour!

29 Jul

Finally, a tour of my new sewing room! This post has been a long time coming – honestly, this room has been set-up and fully functional since the first couple of weeks after we moved (because I have priorities), but I’ve put off sharing the big reveal until I felt that the room was “finished.” As always, I’ve realized that this room will never really be finished – I still want to hang some more lights, make a new ironing board cover, get a couple more rugs, etc etc – but it’s as finished as it’ll be for now. And now it’s time to share!

Soooo – welcome to my new sewing room, the Kingston Springs edition!

Sewing RoomThis room is funny shape, so getting photos was a little difficult. It’s basically an L shape – there are two little nooks off each end, and the corridor between is wide enough so that you can shove furniture against the wall and still be able to walk through. Here I have drawn you a shitty not-to-scale diagram to give you an idea of the layout. I used Comic Sans as my font choice to make it extra obnoxious. sewing room layout So, as you can see – two nooks with a bit of a walkway. The hallway going off the photo leads to our bedroom and bathroom, and the diagonal line off to the side of the cutting area is a doorway leading to our private living room/Landon’s office. The rectangles are windows and doors – one window in each the sewing and cutting nook, and the door is to the side of the desk. Our apartment is in the basement of the house, so the stairs lead up to the main floor. I’ll admit that when Morgan asked if I wanted to move into her BASEMENT, I was like, “lol no fucking way I ain’t your kid.” But, forreal, this is a pretty happy basement – it has windows and a door that leads outside, so it gets a good amount of light. Although it was a little scary when I first saw it, and it definitely took some TLC to get it to the point that it is now. The room is quite smaller than it looks – my rough measurements put it around 130 square feet. My old sewing room was about 200 square feet, so there was some downsizing and furniture Tetris in order to get everything to fit. It was a little brain-bending at times, but I think it turned out pretty awesome!

Before we moved in, we had to fix the basement up a little. We were really lucky that Morgan moved into the house a few weeks before we did, so we could do this at our leisure (and not live in the middle of a construction zone). The basement is finished and was fully carpeted. We tore out the carpet in the sewing room area – it was completely soaked with cat urine and was beyond saving. The carpet in the bedroom and living room, as well as the stairs, was ok, so that’s still there. Since the unfinished concrete floors were pretty beat-up looking (although thankfully not stained with pee odor! THANK GOD FOR THAT) and nobody wanted to invest in flooring right now, we simply stained them with.. um, some shit from the hardware store haha. We also installed the screen door outside; eventually I’d like to replace the door with one that has a window, but I ain’t got the budget for that now.

I painted the majority of the room by myself – the color is “Aquatic Mist” by Valspar, and the insides of the windows is some color called “Blanket” (I don’t recall the brand, but I will fully admit that I bought the color based solely on the name alone. Who names a paint color Blanket?? Michael Jackson?). Well, majority except for the long hallway leading to the back half – that stayed unpainted for like 2 months, because I wanted Landon to help me with rolling and we kept putting it off. He actually painted it for me as a surprise while I was in Peru, which might very well be the best welcome home gift I’ve ever been recipient of. Ok, I think I’ve talked enough! I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story :) Sewing Room

Starting with general layout photos – here’s the desk area.

Sewing RoomThe hallway leading to the back of our living area. And that giant wall that Landon painted! Sewing Room

The top photo in this post is the sewing area – here’s a view of the wall behind the machines. That tiny nook under the stairs ended up being exactly the right size to fit my pattern cabinet.

Sewing RoomThe opposite nook is the cutting and pressing area, as well as my fabric stash along the wall. Sewing Room

The ironing station. I REALLY wish I’d been able to find a way to keep the ironing board closer to the sewing machines, but the room layout just wouldn’t work around it (and I wanted to keep my desk in the center of the room). It’s not so bad to walk to the ironing board, I guess – I tell myself that a little exercise won’t kill me haha.

Sewing RoomMore of the cutting area. Sewing Room

Standing behind the cutting table, looking back toward the desk.

Detail shots:

Sewing RoomThese bookshelves are below the wall shelves in the cutting area – I keep my collection of sewing books here, as well as my yarn stash (it’s ALL in that basket! I can’t keep my fabric stash under control, but I’ve managed ok with my yarn stash!) and embroidery supplies (in the 70s floral filing box). The blue metal basket up top is where I keep my lingerie sewing queue, and the wooden FL box is my regular sewing queue. I’ve found it’s easier for me to do all my cutting at once for a few projects, and then I can work through the bundles without having to stop and cut another project. Sewing Room

Over the bookshelf are these two wall shelves that I hung ALL BY MYSELF (like a boss). I wouldn’t normally get all riled up over hanging a wall shelf, however, these were heavy AF and I somehow even managed to get them level idk. Anyway, the boxes are for small notions/tools that I have masses of – mostly lingerie supplies and zippers. I haven’t filled all the boxes quite yet, but I figure that’ll happen in due time haha.

Oh, and the plants on top are fake. Obviously. They are the only fake plants in this room, though… for now.

Sewing RoomI love this pattern so much, I hung it in a frame so I could admire it all the time :) Sewing Room

The wall at one end of my cutting table is where I have my cork boards and tools. One board is for general inspiration/love notes – just things that make me happy. The other board is my project board – I’ve found by having a visual running list with swatches and sketches out where I can actually see it (i.e., not in a book or lurking on the internet), I can more easily keep track of my make list. Sometimes I forget what patterns or fabric I have in my gigantic stashes, and this is really helpful!

Sewing RoomHere’s the other end of the cutting table, and one of two windows! That plant is totally alive and not fake, btw. Sewing Room

This is the view from the window. Ahh! We are totally ground-level and I look straight into the woods. Amelia loves to sit in this window and watch the birds, and sometimes Turtle (the beagle) will come sniffing around when she’s outside and it always freaks Amelia out because they are eye-level haha.

Sewing RoomA little more about the cutting table! I built this myself (well – I use the term “built” loosely; it’s IKEA furniture that I screwed together haha) and it’s pretty awesome! I used two Kallax shelves and a Linnmon table top (there is a whole list of links at the bottom of the post for the specific products I used), and 4 sets of Kallax casters to raise it to counter height/make it moveable. One end, I installed 2 drawers on top, and bought 2 little fabric boxes for extra storage (if you were wondering – one box holds swimsuit fabric, and the other holds a mass of vintage zippers still in their packages – too big for the cardboard boxes on the shelves). I also installed a rod to hold my scissor collection on S hooks. They do sit in front of the drawers, but it’s easy to slide them out of the way when I need to access the drawers (which isn’t terribly often). Due to the width of the rod where it screws in, I could only install it on that side.

Those of y’all who have seen previous sewing rooms of mine (we’re on #6 as of this writing… I’m a dedicated woman for sure. I also live in an area with a low cost of living. Yay!) will recall that I had a Norden Gateleg table as my old cutting table. It was ok for a cutting table – I liked the size and that it folded down to be very narrow. However, the height was always bad for me, even when raised on blocks (and, again, I’m 5’2″, so I don’t have extra height to deal with here). I also hated that I couldn’t fit anything under the table due to how the legs were arranged to raise the leaves. And the drawers were a funny shape that I never found useful. I like this table a lot better – it’s pretty much countertop-height with the casters, and I have lots of storage options with the shelves/drawers/boxes. Plus, if I ever give up on sewing (lol no), I can always disassemble it and use the pieces individually on their own. Or sell it – Nashville doesn’t have an IKEA (we have to drive 4 hours to Atlanta), so people here seem to think that shit is made of gold and will pay top dollar for it haha. Which is exactly what I did with the Norden. Bye, Felica!Sewing Room

The inner side of the cutting table has more storage boxes – silk scraps, leather scraps, craft supplies, knit swatches, and my dye pot.

Sewing RoomThis little cart fits perfectly under the table as well. I keep a bunch of weird stuff here – cutting and marking tools, pressing supplies, extra pincushions, my hammer and a spray bottle. Sewing Room

The ironing station is right next to the cutting table. My iron is a silver star ES-300, which is a gravity feed iron and it’s AWESOME. The one thing that seems to scare people the most about using a gravity feed (other than the sheer steam power behind it) is that it doesn’t have an auto shut-off, and they are afraid they’ll accidentally leave it on and burn the house down. I solved this issue by plugging my iron into a power strip that also has paper lantern lights running from it – so if the strip is on, the lights are also on (and, thus, the iron is on). It’s pretty easy to tell if the iron is on that way! That overflowing box of fabric houses all my scraps from cutting. I try to find homes for that shit as quickly as possible because the pile can quickly get overwhelming otherwise.

Sewing RoomNext to the ironing board is my fabric stash – organized somewhat by type/color (jerseys/knits on one side, wovens on the other). I installed little cabinet doors on the bottom, to hide unsightly stash (fabric scraps and linings) and boxes for the unfoldables (interfacings and lingerie fabrics). The roll of paper on top is super handy for pattern tracing or if I just want to make a giant doodle of something. As far as *how* I stash my fabric – I used to fold, but now I roll. Folding looks really pretty, but I could never seem to keep it neat (mostly because my attitude went somewhere along the lines of “ah, fuck it.”). Now I roll my fabric and just stack it in the little cubes. It much easier to keep everything organized this way!

As you can probably tell, this area is also Cat Central. Amelia likes to hang here – on the rug, in front of the screen, all up in my silks – so I keep her scratching pad here, and there’s always at least one toy lurking around.Sewing Room

I like having my desk in the middle of the room, so I can easily hear music/videos while I’m working. It’s also close to the door (which is open 99% of the time, bc fresh air lol yay). I work from home a couple days a week, so it was important for me to have a nice workspace to sit at. I also hung those shelves above the desk, also by myself. I really love shelving. And boxes, for that matter.

Sewing RoomTo the left of the desk is the sewing area. This is where I keep my machines, patterns, and a bunch of notions. Sewing Room

And here’s the view out of that window, in case you were curious :)

Sewing RoomOn one table, I keep both of my standard sewing machines – I have a Bernina 350PE and a Pfaff 7570. The Bernina is my main machine, but it’s really nice having 2 when you are working on a project that requires a lot of thread changes (such as jeans). For those, I use the Pfaff for construction and the Bernina for topstitching. Above the machines are buttons, notions, and thread racks. Sewing Room

More thread racks, plus my favorite sewing room art :D

Sewing RoomThe dedicated serger table has additional storage, which is handy. My serger is a Babylock Imagine, FYI. Sewing Room

Behind the sewing machines, in the weird little nook under the stairwell, is where I keep my pattern stash. On top of the cabinet, I have storage for trims and elastics, plus a running queue of the patterns I want to make next (before I cut them and put them in the cut queue box by the cutting tables. Man! All these systems!). That bag hanging on the lemon hook is my knitting bag.

Taking photos of my sewing room is hard because it's such a funny shape! Here's a shitty panoramic to give you an idea of what I'm working with.

Finally, here’s an Instagram panorama of the room!

SHOPPING LIST:
Most of the stuff in this room is either thrifted or from IKEA. I’ve tried to compile everything here, but feel free to ask if you are curious as to where I got something! If it’s not on the list, chances are I bought it used (like from the thrift store or flea market). Like I said, I’ve had an on-going sewing room in every house I’ve lived in for nearly the past 10 years, so I’ve had a LOT of time to collect stuff and learn what works best for my set-up and organizational needs. Oh, and one more thing, because I’m always asked this – yes, it does always stay this clean! “Messy” for me is if there is a project on the cutting table. I never lets piles accumulate and I’m pretty good about putting stuff away when I’m done with it. I can’t stand to work in a messy room, plus, this area is the walk-through to get to the rest of our basement suite, so I have to be mindful of that for Landon’s sake.

Wall paint color: Aquatic Mist by Valspar

Sewing nook
Serger table: thrifted + painted
Sewing machine table: family hand-me-down + painted
Pattern cabinet: thrifted + painted (for info on the boxes inside the cabinet, check out this post!)
DMC thread organizer: thrifted
Thread racks: given to me by Elizabeth, but here are some similars on Amazon- thread rack + serger thread rack
Turquoise hanging shelf: thrifted + painted
Chairs: thrifted
Sewing room art: Joanna Baker, via Madalynne giveaway
“I’ve Made A Huge Mistake” chalkboard sign: Custom made by Kaelah
Rug: Old Time Pottery

Desk area
Desk: Nashville flea market
Chair: Nashville flea market
Ceiling light: KNAPPA
Wall shelves: EKBY JÄRPEN / EKBY BJÄRNUM
Mesh drawer unit: LENNART
Rail/basket (above desk): BYGEL RAIL + BYGEL BASKET
Dressform: Professional female dressform with collapsible shoulders (also: full review here!)
Rug: Nashville flea market
Sewing machine print: Madalynne
Kitty Cat clock: gift from Landon

Fabric // Cutting area
Fabric shelf: KALLAX with 2 doors
Industrial paper roll: Given to me when my old job (advertising) was downsizing and clearing out the art room!
Paper lanterns: IKEA, like 10+ years ago
Rug: Nashville flea market
Wall shelves: EKBY JÄRPEN / EKBY BJÄRNUM
Bookshelf: thrifted
Cutting table: 2 KALLAX shelves + LINNMON tabletop + 2 KALLAX drawers + 4 KALLAX casters. Scissor rail is BYGEL RAIL + s-hooks
Tool baskets (under the corkboards): BYGEL RAIL + BYGEL container
Turquoise utility cart: RÅSKOG
Yellow storage boxes: DRÖNA
Large white storage boxes: IKEA, discontinued (these are similar)
Small white storage boxes: IKEA, discontinued (these are similar)
Fake plants: FEJKA

Ok, I think that’s it! Let me know if you have any questions :)

Why I Sew

16 Apr

Sewing room sneaky peek

“Why do you sew?” This is the question that I get asked on a near daily basis – evenly distributed between curious blog comments, emails, face-to-face introductions, and random strangers who compliment something handmade that I happen to be wearing. Obviously, I am happy to talk about sewing until I start seeing eyes glaze over (oh, who am I kidding, I’m not gonna let that stop me one bit), but it’s not really something I’ve ever discussed at large on this blog. Since I’m currently in this weird blogging purgatory where I have finished projects but can’t take photos due to the current torrential downpours going on right now, let’s talk about it! And have some new sewing room sneaky-peeks while we’re at it :D

As some of you may know, I learned how to sew through self-teaching. I’ve been around sewing my entire life – my mom made a lot of curtains, stuffed bunnies, and Easter dresses throughout my childhood, and I even had my own little sewing kit that I’d use to fashion Barbie-sized clothing and quilts. I started using her sewing machine when I was around 13 or 14, as someone on my favorite AOL message board (haha YEP) mentioned that they would sew up the sides of their band shirts to make them fit better. MIND. BLOWN. I used sewing strictly for alterations for a few years, and it wasn’t until I was 20 that I started trying to use sewing patterns. I learned everything – from threading the machine, to deciphering the pattern jargon, to learning new techniques – from books and the occasional internet research (I didn’t have internet in my house 10 years ago, so most of my early knowledge came from reading the Vogue Sewing Book cover to cover, like a freaking novel). That was back before blogging really took off, before sew-alongs were a thing, before I even knew that there was a site like Pattern Review and definitely during a time when we gave indie pattern companies a wary side-eye because we weren’t sure if they were to be trusted.

When I started sewing, I never had any intentions of eventually having a 100% me-made wardrobe. I never imagined that sewing would ever earn me any sort of income, not outside the random $10-$15 for an occasional pants-hem. I never really thought about it while it was happening – it was just, oh, great, a new hobby to immerse myself in! I did eventually start selling the clothing that I was making, as a way to offset some of my costs and give myself the go-ahead to sew up looks and fabrics that I’d never personally wear. That lasted for a few years, and it was pretty fun! I ultimately closed down the line because it was taking up too much of my selfish sewing time (NO RAGRETS).

noragretsI’ve been perfecting my craft for nearly 10 years at this point (I don’t count those early days pre-20 because, honestly, the only action my sewing machine got was nipping in the side seams of whatever random band shirt I’d bought the night before. Seriously. Soooo many band shirts), which is kind of crazy to me! I’ve had a lot of hobbies in the past, but this one has definitely stuck around the longest, and turned into an actual passion as opposed to something I do every few weeks so I have something to chat about at parties.

So, with all that being said – I give you my top 5 reasons (in no particular order) as to why I sew.Sewing room sneaky peek

REASON #1: Mood-Altering Abilities

I love sewing because it’s a good mood-changer for almost any situation I encounter. If I’m bored, it’s entertaining. If I’m feeling stressed, it’s relaxing. If I’m angry, it calms me down. Everything about the entire process – from planning, to cutting, to prepping, to stitching, to finishing – makes me feel drastically better than I did before the project started. Truth, if I go too long without getting some creative release taken care of (such as those couple weeks during our recent move), I start getting angsty and upset. Sewing just makes me feel really good, which is more than I can say about other hobbies. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t peel myself off the couch after an afternoon of TV binge-watching and think, “Man. That was a productive day.” And hey, since sewing is considered entertainment – it’s REALLY easy to justify spending money on it :) Ha!

 

REASON #2: Problem Solving

I am a problem-solver at heart. Give me a dilemma, and I’ll roll it around in my head for a few hours (or days) and try to come up with the most effective solution. I was one of those math nerds in high school who loved both Algebra AND Geometry. Figuring my way out of puzzle keeps my brain active and happy, and sewing is a really good way to incorporate that into my every day life. I love being presented with a challenge – whether it involves fitting, fabric, or finishing – and kicking that challenge right in its big, stupid ass. I’m not really a brain expert here or anything, but I like to think that exercising that part of my brain that solves problems and figures out puzzles makes me a better problem-solver overall, in all aspects of my day to day life. Whether or not that’s actually true, of course, is up for debate, but again – it makes me feel good. I like feeling good.

 

REASON #3: Level 10 Bartering // Income

When my sewing skills were still in their infancy, I learned a lot of what I know just from hacking away at alterations (first, my own, later, everyone else’s). I hemmed pants, I shortened bridesmaid dresses, I repaired couch pillows and cushions, I made custom curtains (fun fact: one time I made curtains for Emerson Hart. Those celebrities in Nashville, they’re everywhere!), I made dog clothes and Halloween costumes, and I also made about 100 flat-sheet sleeping sacks for a local hostel (you wanna know why I can sew in such a straight line? I had a LOT of practice making those sacks! ha!). I advertised on Craigslist and charged low rates, and made some decent money over the years. Not enough to quit my day job, obviously – but enough for a night out of drinking, or to pay for gas for the week, or to add to my savings for an upcoming trip. I was pretty poor during most of those 10 years – I was an irresponsible 20something with loads of credit card debt who spent way too much money on cigarettes and alcohol – and these random little alteration jobs kept me afloat when I needed it most. This is something I can always fall back on – and I still do, from time to time. When I was jobless during the last month of 2013, you best believe I was hawking the alterations like a crazy person. Not only was I able to cover my rent and bills – I also was able to tuck some money into savings. Yay!

I do pretty all right now with my current work, so I’m not dying for additional income right now – but I still using sewing as the bestest bartering tool. Like that one time when I had to take to small claims court that asshole who hit my car (AND THEN LIED ABOUT IT) – I bartered with my lawyer friend, who agreed to represent me in court in exchange for making him a Princess Peach dress for Halloween.

Check out the finished man-sized Princess Peach dress that I made for my attorney (yes, he's awesome)! Last year, I was in a minor car accident that the insurance refused to pay out (despite none of it being my fault), and this guy was nice enough to repr

I cannot make this shit up. Again – sewing is the best bartering tool evarrr. I wouldn’t have been able to afford a lawyer otherwise, but I *can* afford my time! Also, I won the case. Mostly because it was total bullshit, but, I digress.

 

REASON #4: Makes Me A Better Consumer

Y’all. For as much as I’m a bleeding hippie about a whole myriad of aspects in my personal life, I used to be a really really terrible consumer. I spent way too much money (see above RE: credit card debt) and I treated most of what I bought as disposable. I didn’t have a lot of control in a lot of really important parts of my life (early 20s were a very dark time for me, to put it mildly), so I shopped. A lot. Sewing helped me get out of the funk in two ways – for one, it gave me something to be happy about and have control over (see reason #1) and it did a number on curbing the consumerism. Once you see how much effort goes into making a single piece of clothing – even a simple fucking tshirt – it becomes a bit mind-blowing to realize that there are stores selling that shit for as little as $2. How? I also started noticing just how crappy the quality is on a lot of the stuff we buy – awful fabrics, pieces cut off-grain, horrible seam finishes, bad fit – especially when you compare it to vintage pieces, or hell, even shit from 15 years ago. All that being said, I really drastically cut down on the amount of stuff I was buying – mostly because it seemed ridiculous to pay $$$ for something horribly made that I could do a better job of myself at home. Once I started getting picky about fit and realized that I was going to have to alter everything I bought, it made clothing shopping even less appealing. I gradually pulled back from buying new clothing over the years, and as of now, I’m rocking the almost-entirely handmade wardrobe.

Also, I read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion when it was published, and it totally blew my mind. If you’re one of 3 people who hasn’t yet heard of this book, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. It will change your (shopping)life.

Sewing also played a part in getting that credit card debt finally paid off once and for all. I spent nearly an entire year living as shitty as possible and funneling the majority of my income into that stupid debt. When I say majority, I really mean it – I gave myself $20 per pay period (so, $40 a month) to spend on fun money after my bills were paid. Everything else went back into that looming debt. It obviously sucked and I’m definitely planning on not ever going through that again. Also – what can you do with $40 a month? That’s like 2 movies, or a month of REALLY shitty cable (or, for me – one night out at the bar). Lame! I sewed my way through my stash, and re-upped with monthly trips to our flea market (where $40 actually does go pretty far!). Instead of going out to the bar, I stayed home in my sewing room. Not only was I keeping myself entertained, I was also contributing to my wardrobe (because, again: $40 a month.). I made additional income from alterations, which I also dumped right into that debt. I was able to pay that shit off about a month earlier than I had anticipated, and I’ve been debt-free ever since! Yay!

 

REASON #5: Complete Wardrobe Control

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this is why the majority of us sew – it gives us complete control of our wardrobe! It’s pretty awesome to be able to choose what you wear based on what you want, and not what’s just available in stores. It’s mind-blowing to be able to finish a garment and know that it is going to fit you just the way you like, without needing a bunch of alterations. And don’t even get me started on the merits of having control over the fabric – how many of us have used novelty bedsheets or ridiculous quilting cotton to make a crazy dress?

New garment sneaky peek

I started sewing specifically for the wardrobe control – beginning with those band tshirts, and making my flares into skinny jeans (because I couldn’t find them in stores, because it was 1999 and everyone worshiped The Flare). I started using patterns because I wanted cotton sundresses made out of ~quirky~ fabrics (mostly those novelty bedsheets, of course). I used vintage patterns because I wanted a vintage wardrobe without paying a hefty price for my pieces. I continued sewing and honing my craft because I want clothes that fit my body and are made of natural fibers, in colors and patterns that I like (versus whatever is available at Express this season). I want clothing with special details and one-of-a-kind designs. I am inspired by the clothing I see- from designers on the runway, to costume design in movies and television, to rando people walking in front of me on the sidewalk – and I recreate it in ways that work for my wardrobe and lifestyle. While I do occasionally complain about how there are RTW fabrics that I never see available for the home sewer, that’s a pretty small drop in the bucket compared to the choices we DO have over the typical clothing consumer. Sewing isn’t exactly known for saving you money these days (I mean, unless you’re ripping off really expensive designer shit), but it certainly puts you in charge of wearing what you want, which to me is worth far more than saving a little bit of cash. I always think back on those skinny jeans that I wore when I was 14, surrounded by a sea of flares, and it feels pretty good to know that I don’t have to put myself at the mercy of whatever is currently in style. I wear what I want, and I give no fucks.

deal-lladybird

So that’s the story of why I sew – in a nutshell, it makes me happy! I like being happy :) Now tell me – why do you sew? What gets your little (sewing)motor going? Do you aspire to the eventual 100% handmade wardrobe, or are you content just pushing out the occasional fiber art because it makes you feel good? Time to get our chat on!

Completed: Ginger Jeans!

8 Jan

Ok, now for the forreal first finished project of 2015 – jeans!!

Ginger Jeans

Damn straight I made jeans! And pretty good-looking jeans, if I do say so myself :)

These are the Ginger Jeans, by Closet Case Files. Full disclosure right here – Heather sent me this pattern, gratis, as a friend-gift with no strings/review requests attached. While I did not pattern test for this particular pattern, I was involved with fitting tweak email chains waaay back before this shit went into testing (because you know me, and I love talking about crotches).

Anyway, I was excited to try this pattern because – one, JEANS!; and two, JEANSSSS!!!

Ginger Jeans

Ginger Jeans

Y’all, this is a really really good pattern. I know I sound biased – and maybe I am, because I lurve me some Heather, and ESPECIALLY because I had a really good almost-out-of-the-envelope experience with making these. It can be hard – if not impossible – to design a pants pattern that is going to fit and flatter every single body it comes in contact with, considering how wildly different everyone’s bodies are. I think the fit of these seems pretty good across the board – I’ve been watching everyone’s finished Gingers popping up all over the place, and most are great right out of the envelope (or with very minor changes). Personally, I had to make a few small tweaks, but they’re not any different than what I do to *all* the pants I make.

Ginger Jeans

I started with the size 2, which corresponds closely with my measurements, and made view B with the high waist. Having participated in this rodeo before, I went ahead and adding my personal ~Lauren~ fitting changes directly to the pattern pieces – which means, I scooped out some of the crotch to give it more of a J shape (more info on that in this post) and added a 1/2″ wedge to the back crotch for some extra bum room. I compared the pattern pieces to some well-fitting patterns and RTW jeans to make sure the crotch lengths and depths were good, then I cut straight into my denim. No muslin this time – which was risky, but I feel pretty confident in my fitting at this point, so I was willing to take one for the team if necessary.

Ginger Jeans

SPOILER: It worked out just fine! Yeehaw!

Ginger Jeans

There are a couple more things I’d like to improve on for my next pair – all up in dat crotch (sorry that you have to look at it). I think this photo illustrates that pretty well – see how the front is just a little too long when I stand a certain way? You can also see it in the photo below – what looks like a really really poorly photoshopped thigh gap is actually just excess fabric bending all weird. I need to pull some excess out of the inseam, maybe about 1/2″ (like, maybe what I added to the back crotch haha!). Honestly, that’s something I could do to this existing pair of jeans as it is – but I also flat-felled that damn inseam, and realistically, I know I probably won’t unpick and fix unless it starts annoying me way more than it does right now. I also need to take a small wedge out of the center back of the waistband – it’s a one-piece curved waistband, but I’m starting to notice that two-piece darted waistbands fit my backside much better. This one isn’t bad, it’s just a little loose. Something to fix for the next pair! The calves are also prettttttyyyy tight – like, these are not the pants that I will be wearing knee socks underneath! I guess I have big calves, though, because that’s an issue I have with all pants (sewing patterns and RTW). Overall, though, I’m really happy with the fit of these. I didn’t have to do ANY changes to the legs, and I think they look pretty good!

Ginger Jeans

Ginger Jeans

Construction on these was pretty straightforward and not at all difficult, although it was time-consuming to do all that topstitching. I followed the instructions on the pattern, as well as the sewalong for places where I needed a little extra clarification. I decided to go balls to the wall with this make and treat them like a real pair of jeans – contrast gold topstitching, flat-felled seams (everywhere except the side seams), proper rivets, the works. Doing all these extras definitely added time to how long it look to make them, but I still finished over the weekend :P Go me!

For fabric, I used a denim/lycra blend that was purchased a Paron’s Fabrics in NYC last year. Heather actually helped me pick this one out, and I am surprised at how much I like it. The recovery is okkkk – it’s not the very best, like my RTW jeans (which are from Imogene + Willie, and WHEW that denim is – as my dad would say – THE BOMB DOT COM) – but it’s better than some stuff I’ve used in the past! The photos you see here were taken before I’d worn them for a day, so they’re at their tightest. As of this posting, I’ve worn the jeans twice and they haven’t bagged out much at all, which is a pleasant surprise. That being said, I really really really want to get my hands on one of Heather’s denim kits, because the Cone Mill denim included in those is basically the same shit as my $200+ I+W jeans. I missed the last sale due to financial restraints, but I’m saving my dollars and waited with bated breath for the next shipment, because you best believe imma be all over that shit like white on rice. NEEDS MORE JEANS.

At Heather’s advice, I did not interface the waistband of my pants. I think I might actually be a convert to this method – the waistband is still stretchy (so it’s super comfy), but the denim is thick enough to give it some structure. I did interface my button and button hole area, as well as the parts noted in the instructions (the fly, the tops of the pockets… I think that’s it?).

Ginger Jeans

For the topstitching, I used Gutterman jeans thread (the gold color, obviously) in my needle and regular ol’ navy polyester thread in the bobbin. At the suggestion of my sewing machine mechanic, I revved up the needle tension to a 7 and lengthened the stitch length to a little over a 3 to get a nice stitch. I used my #10 edgestitching foot (favorite foot ever, holla) to create even lines, and a 90/14 denim needle to pierce through all the layers. Since the guts of the jeans are assembled with the standard navy thread, this meant that I did a LOT of thread-changing to make this pair of pants. For future pants, I’ve lugged out my old Pfaff so I can keep both machines threaded and just switch back and forth, but the changing was ok for this first go-round.

Also, speaking of topstitching – I loved all the bartacks involved with making jeans. So much fun and SO satisfying! My machine actually doesn’t have a setting for bartacks, but I just reduced the zigzag stitch length and width until it looked good.

Ginger Jeans

If you have super eagle eyes, you may notice that the double topstitching is slightly different at the pockets vs the yoke/crotch seam. I had to widen the lines to properly catch where I folded the pockets under, but I really don’t think the wide-set stitching looks as good as the narrower set on the back. Oh well, just something to change for the next pair :)

Ginger Jeans

Ginger Jeans

I looove the star rivets, though! And check out my cool jeans button! All the hardware (including the zipper) was purchased at Pacific Trimming in NYC, same time as when I got my denim. All that stuff was sooo cheap (I want to say the rivets were, like, $0.10 a piece of something crazy like that. I bought a whole bagful HAHAHA), wish I had better access to it on the regular! To set my rivets and my button, I used the good ol’ hammer-and-cast-iron-skillet combination. Worked like a charm!

Ginger Jeans

Ginger Jeans

Fun pocket lining! Also, I think I cut the fly interfacing too wide – bummer that it peeks out. Oh well, again – something to change for the next pair :P

Ginger Jeans

Proof of flat-felled seams, and also machine thread snarls. Whoops.

Ginger Jeans

I’m pretty happy to have officially made LEGIT jeans (I have made “denim trousers” in the past, but nothing with topstitching and rivets and all that fun stuff!), and even more happy that they are super wearable! Now I just need to bang them out in all the colors my wardrobe requires and I’ll be set for life, at least as far as my denim is concerned :) I really want to try some different topstitching colors and details – looking at my I+W jeans, I really love the multiple colors of thread they used, and the little plus shaped bartacks. I also want some wacky insides – printed pocket fabric and colorful serger thread, anyone?

Would you ever make jeans for yourself, or does this fall in the camp of things you’d rather buy? Have you made this pattern before (if so, lemme see dem jeans, ladies)? As someone who’s literally worn the same pair of jeans for a solid year, how many pairs is too many?

Completed: Vogue 1419 (At Last!)

18 Nov

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

Anyway, coat!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

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

V1419 Ralph Rucci - Inspiration Watercolor

Here’s my original inspiration, in watercolor :)

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

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

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

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

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

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

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

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Coat - Completed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Completed: The Rigel Bomber Jacket

14 Nov

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

Rigel Bomber Jacket

My dream bomber jacket! ♥

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

Rigel Bomber Jacket

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

Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket

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

Rigel Bomber Jacket

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

Rigel Bomber Jacket

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

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

Rigel Bomber Jacket

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

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

Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket

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

Rigel Bomber Jacket

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

Rigel Bomber Jacket
Rigel Bomber Jacket

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

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

Have a photo dump:

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

God, I’m sorry about that.

Rigel Bomber Jacket

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

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

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

Rigel Bomber JacketHave a great weekend, y’all!

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