Tag Archives: hot damn this is my jam

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!

Completed: Bikey Maritime Shorts

31 Jul

I love it when a single piece of clothing incorporates a bunch of my favorite things at once.

Bikey Maritime Shorts

Bicycles? Check.
Maritime shorts? Check.
Roisin? FUCK YEA.

Bikey Maritime Shorts

I know they look like polka dots from a distance, but seriously there are teeny-tiny little bicycles all over these shorts and OMG SO CUTE.

Bikey Maritime Shorts

I’m a sucker for bicycle printed fabric – this is a true fact, and I don’t think I even need to say it, because most of y’all are probably nodding your heads (and/or rolling your eyes) from how often I mention it. That’s ok, I’ll say it again – bicycle fabric rules! This stuff is extra special, though, because it came as a gift from my homegirl, Roisin. Recently on her honeymoon in Paris, Roisin posted this shit on Instagram after a fabric shopping bender (seriously… she went home with some really beautiful stuff) and I nearly had a heart attack over the BICYCLE PRINTED DENIM. Because she’s an amazing sport, Roisin offered to go back to the fabric store and pick me up my own 3m length. On her freaking honeymoon! Do you see why this lady is amazing? Because she’s amazing.

Bikey Maritime Shorts
Bikey Maritime Shorts

And because of her, I now am the proud owner of these cute little bike shorts! Yay!

Bikey Maritime Shorts

I’ve made this pattern – the Maritime shorts – a million times, so there’s not a lot left to say about them. I cut my usual size, and sewed these up as normal. I knew I wanted to stick with a good tried-n-true to be absolutely positive that we would have no fitting issues here, especially after all that trauma I had trying to make jorts. Speaking of which, I think I figured out the issue with the zipper – after inspecting the zipper of my jeans (the ones I bought, not me-mades), I noticed that the fly extension is tacked down right at the base of the zipper, which takes a lot of the strain when you’re pulling them off and on. It’s amazing that something as simple as reinforcing the extension with a bartack really makes such difference but it does. After realizing this, I checked the pattern and it does instruct you to tack the extension down. I guess I skipped over it in my jeans haste? I dunno. But hey, now you can learn from my mistake! :D

Bikey Maritime Shorts
Bikey Maritime Shorts

Sorry ’bout all the wrinkles. I took these photos after wearing the shorts all day, so most of them are from sitting and moving around. While this fabric is a denim, it’s pretty lightweight for shorts, so it tends to wrinkle. The fabric softened up quite a bit after prewashing, and also set a few wrinkles in permanently (such as the one you see by the side seam).

Bikey Maritime Shorts
Bikey Maritime Shorts
Bikey Maritime Shorts
Bikey Maritime Shorts

Some additional notes:
– I debated on topstitching with a contrasting thread – either white or gold – but ultimately decided to let the bikes take center stage and kept the topstitching navy. I love how it’s subdued and classy – well, as classy as a pair of short shorts covered in bicycles can be :P
– My pocket lining is Liberty fabric, left over from my recently Liberty make! I know it doesn’t exactly match the denim, but I couldn’t resist pairing these two special fabrics together – after all, they’re both from some of my favorite bloggers, so it seemed only natural :)
– You may have noticed that I didn’t finish the edge of that fly extension. Actually, I did. It’s just up under the waistband because I’m fucking stupid haha. Oh well!

Bikey Maritime Shorts

I tucked my chambray button-down in so you could really see the way the shorts look, and I surprised myself because I actually kind of dig the way it looks (even if it does scream ~Fashion Blogger on Pinterest~, which we all know I most certainly am NOT haha!). For the most part, though, I wear the shirt untucked, as in the above photo.

Bikey Maritime Shorts

The best part – those lil’ shorts use barely any fabric at all, which means I still have about 2m left to play with! I’m debating what to do with the remaining yardage. It’s too heavy to be any sort of top (well, any sort of top that I would wear) and I’m not keen on making a matching pair of pants… but a dress, perhaps? What pattern would you suggest?

Thanks again, Roisin, for being such a star and making these cute shorts a reality! When I finally get my butt to London, I owe ya a drink :) Or two :)

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