Completed: Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

13 Feb

I don’t think I need to introduce anyone to the sewing superstar Gertie, right? The sewing blogger, pattern writer, fabric designer, and workshop leader WHO LOOKS LIKE A LITERAL PORCELAIN DOLL (not even exaggerating… it would be maddening if she wasn’t also an incredibly delightful person to interact with!)? Yes. That one. If you don’t know who she is – well, welcome to the online sewing community! Now read up on the OG superstars!

I’ve followed Gertie for years – she’s actually the reason why I started my blog! – and cheered her on with every new business venture. While my tastes have definitely skewed away from vintage style, I still really love to see the stuff that she puts out. When Gertie was in Nashville last year for a workshop, she brought a few patterns from her new line, Charm Patterns, and I picked up the Rita blouse to try out. I like this pattern that it does look vintage, but not quite so costumey (no hate on y’all who do the costumey vintage; I fucking LOVE it but it just really isn’t a style I like to wear these days).

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

I always get bored with sewing winter stuff around this time of year – although I feel like this year it started a bit earlier. I’m also making a bigger effort to work my way through my stash, both patterns and fabric. I remembered this pattern a couple of weeks ago and decided to sew a test version. When I bought the pattern, I originally envisioned using a beautiful Dolce & Gabbana stretch silk with it, but I wanted to try the pattern with a less precious fabric before committing.

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

The test fabric is actually… wait for it… fabric from Gertie’s fabric line! Ha! I don’t see it available on her website now, but it’s a lightweight cotton with a really brilliant, colorful print. I received this fabric as the winner of a giveaway on Gertie’s old blog, back in like… 2015. Ouch. I actually got a few fabrics, as well Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. Truth be told, this fabric isn’t completely my style… I don’t wear lot of florals, I don’t wear much black in the summer (and to me, this is a summer print) and I also don’t wear this shade of blue. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely fabric… it just doesn’t fit well with my wardrobe. And, of course, I got something crazy like 4 yards of it. So when I was looking for a fabric to use in a test Rita, I rediscovered this piece and thought – eh, why not? No huge loss if it doesn’t work out, but I’ll still prob wear it if it *does*.

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

I’ve never sewn a Charm Pattern before, so I paid close attention to the size chart when choosing my size. There isn’t a lot of guidance on how to choose your size, so I just went with what my measurements are. The part I found most confusing was the underbust measurement – it seemed really tiny. And with a 27″ underbust, mine is already quite small! I was a little concerned about the amount of ease there, as I didn’t want it to be too tight if I take a deep breath. I ended up going with a size 4 and a C cup, again, this is based off my measurements.

I think the fit is pretty much spot on. There’s a little bit of ease around the waist, a lot of ease at the bust for all those gathers, and the bottom flares out a little for your hips. I think the pattern looks and fits exactly as it was intended to. And as far as the underbust – it’s perfectly comfortable. So yay for that!

Construction-wise, this was easy to sew. The hardest part was feeding the elastic through the channeling – the pattern has you create a 3/8″ wide channel for the 1/4″ elastic, and I must have made mine a bit smaller than that as I had a really hard time getting my elastic to relax out completely despite lots and lots of effort. I ended up shortening the elastic around the arms by about 1″ and the neckline something like 4″. I feel the arms are ok, but the neckline is slightly tighter than I’d like and it feels like it wants to pull up at the bust.

I serged all the seams as a sewed them (together, not pressed open like the pattern suggests. This is a test blouse, ain’t nobody got time for that!). There is an invisible zipper at the side; mine is a little shorter than the pattern calls for as it was all I had in my stash, but I don’t have any problem getting in or out of the shirt.

This was a quick project; I had everything traced and cut in about an hour, then the blouse sewn up the next afternoon minus the hems. Hemmed it the next morning and wore it out to see a friend that afternoon. Not too bad!

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

So… I think the blouse does look cute, and I like the way it looks in photos. I’m still not totally convinced that it is something I want to wear, though, both in style and due to fabric choice. It feels a little dressier than what I’m accustomed to. I originally envisioned wearing this tucked into my black pants, but the side invisible zipper makes a weird lump when I tuck it (this may not be an issue with something that is a true high waist – like, over the belly button). It doesn’t look bad untucked, but I’m not crazy about it. I like it, but I don’t LOVE it. And I have decided that there isn’t space in my wardrobe for things that I don’t actually love. I have enough clothes as it is!

I think I may actually remove part of the bottom and attach a skirt to it, and just turn the entire thing into a dress. I think that might be a better use of this fabric (especially since I have so much more of it leftover!) and I would enjoy wearing that more than the top. It would certainly be fun to wear in the summer, and lord knows I won’t wear pants when it’s hot out! And yeah it’s gonna be costumey AF, but I’m kind of loving that idea.

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

Anyway, just thinking out loud! In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t use my special D&G fabric to make this as, like I said, I’m not 100% on the style. I am interested to see if that opinion changes when I swap out for a skirt. I need to dig through my patterns and see if I have something suitable, and I will return with an update!

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Completed: Papercut Patterns Palisade Pants

31 Jan

I think I told y’all last year how much I love the new Geo Collection from Papercut Patterns. In case you missed it – I LOVE THE NEW GEO COLLECTION FROM PAPERCUT PATTERNS! As a shameless Papercut Fangirl, I am of course extremely biased regardless, but it is honestly a great collection. I’ve made the Pinnacle Top (twice, actually!), and the Fjord Cardigan (unblogged!), and now I’ve got some fresh new Palisade Pants to add to the mix!

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

I just think this pattern is so cool! I love the relaxed (but not oversized) shape, with the interesting pocket detail and elastic waist that doesn’t go all the way around (personally, I find a flat front to be more… well, flattering). These are very similar to the Elizabeth Suzann Clyde pants, with a different pocket shape and, again, a flat front with no elastic. Both pants have the same high waist and seams running down the front and back leg.

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

As much as I love a fitted pant, I didn’t want these to be too tight in the hip so I went with a size XS (based on my measurements). I ended up taking an additional 1/4″ out of the inseam to tighten up the legs ever so slightly (I don’t generally mess with the inseam, however, these pants do not have side seams), but I am very happy with how the hip and waist fits. FWIW, I did use the suggested elastic measurement and it fits perfectly without being too tight.

I made a muslin of the shorts before cutting into my fabric, because I wasn’t sure how these would fit on my body. I actually do own a pair of Clyde pants (from way back when I still worked at ES), and I always felt like the crotch was a little too long on me, so I went ahead and sewed up a test pair before committing. My test pair is actually a fully-finished wearable muslin – I used cotton bottomweight fabric, as well as the suggested interfacing, elastic, and topstitching details. So I also basically have a new pair of shorts when summer comes around haha. My sample showed that I did need to take some of the crotch length out – a full 1.5″ (crotch length refers to the measurement from front waist to back waist spanning the crotchal area, NOT the length from crotch to waist when you sit down, which is considered crotch depth. See this image for a visual) (also, every time I type crotch I accidentally type crochet instead what is wrong with me). Before you start wringing your hands on the mysteries of pants-fitting, please be aware that this is not an adjustment I see a lot of people make (and I touched a LOT of crotches last year during all my workshops). If you do need it, the explanation and process of how to fix are best outlined in Pants For Real People, which I recommend checking out for further questions!

ANYWAY, the amount that I took off the length was easily adjusted (albeit in a very hacky way) to my shorts, so yes, those are still wearable! One more adjustment I made to the pants was to change the crotch curve, as it was a little flat for my body (this is indicated by vertical folds in the fabric in a very unflattering spot). This was not necessary in my sample, but did show more prominently in my finished pants – probably because the fabric has more drape. The front still isn’t completely flat if I stand a certain way, but I think that’s pretty unavoidable with this soft fabric + pants shape combination.

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

Construction changes were minor. I wanted to keep the fabric soft, so I omitted about half of the interfacing (anywhere that there would be double layers of interfacing). This included the pockets and the center front waistband. In retrospect, I probably should have left the double layer of interfacing on the waistband as it does get a crease with wear, but, whatever. I used a lightweight fusible weft interfacing, which is pretty much my go-to for most fabrics.

I left off the mock fly (for aesthetic reasons), and just topstitched the center front and center back seams. I also added some topstitching to the back elastic, to keep it from twisting. And I also unintentionally shortened the pants when I shortened the crotch depth, so they are about 1.5″ shorter than the pattern – which thankfully is the perfect length for me haha.

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

My fabric is a gorgeous wool suiting that I bought from Mood Fabrics when I was in NY last month for Christmas. I only had one day in Manhattan, and my mom agreed to go with me while I did a quick little shop around the Garment District. Mood has tons of great wool suitings on their website, but I wanted to see the goods in person so I could get a nice feel for drape, weight, itchiness, and color. I knew I wanted something soft, lightweight, non-itchy (as I would not be lining these) and with a little bit of dimension and texture that didn’t look too suit-like. This stuff hit all those boxes, and only cost around $20/yard. It was wide, too, so the 2 yards I bought were more than enough for these pants – meaning I have leftovers to whip up something else if the mood strikes.

I actually pre-washed my wool – like, in the washing machine – because I wanted to see what would happen. Generally, wool felts due to heat combined with agitation, so I used cold water and low heat in the dryer. I didn’t measure before/after to see if anything shrunk, but this definitely isn’t felted so it worked out ok! When I wash the actual pants, I will use cold water in the washer and hang them to dry (how I treat most of my wool garments, except for handknit sweaters obviously).

The wool was really easy to sew, as wool tends to be. I suspect there is some poly blended in here, though, since it didn’t press as well as most wools do (this would also explain why the fabric was fine in the dryer when I pre-washed). I used high heat and a clapper to hold the seams down while they cooled, then for extra credit I topstitched as much as possible to keep the seams nice and flat. To sew, I used a universal 80/12 needle and finished all seams with my serger.

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

I think that about covers it! This was a fun project to make, and I really like how the pants turned out. I’m still undecided if these are really “me,” but I’ve worn them for the past 2 days while we’ve had a cold snap in Nashville and they are warm and comfortable. I do want to try this pattern with a fabric better suited for warmer weather – such as linen or tencel – and perhaps in a cropped length or even the shorts. The pocket detail just makes me so happy.

Oh! And in case you were curious – the shirt I am wearing is a mash-up of the Nikko Top and the Nettie Bodysuit. I basically just combined the bottom edge of the shirt with the lower half of the body suit, to make a Nikko Bodysuit. This piece has been really useful in my wardrobe – it looks great with high-waisted skirts and pants, and stays tucked in no matter which way I move. I made it with lightweight merino wool fabric, also from Mood Fabrics, and I love it so much!

**Note: The fabrics used in this post were provided to me by Mood Fabrics, in exchange for my participation in the Mood Sewing Network. All opinions are my own!

2018: A Year in Review

31 Dec

I *almost* didn’t didn’t get this post written in time for the end of the year! But I feel like it’s not a true end-of-the-year celebration without a proper write-up, so here’s my review of 2018!

this me

2018 was another kind of weird year for me. It was definitely an upswing of a year compared to 2017, but I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t have to navigate some bullshit and heartache throughout the year. Sewing-wise, I’ve been on a constant path of slooooowing down, which has continued into 2018. A big part of this is due to less frequent blogging – I don’t feel compelled to post so frequently, which means I also didn’t feel compelled to constantly be making stuff. I also am just really over the idea of having multiples of the same thing. Not to judge anyone who lives and breathes having the same dress made in every color of the rainbow, I just realized it really isn’t for me. Especially considering I have a quite limited palette of colors I prefer to wear – something else that I’ve been really honing in on this year. It makes for a less exciting fabric stash, but the result is more garments that I will wear and truly love – rather than sewing just to sew, then blog, then never wear again.

Another really big change for me this year that drastically affected my sewing output was a big bump in my teaching commitments! I really put myself out there and offered loads of Sew Your Own Jeans workshops – and holy shit, y’all had me FLOORED by the response! All in all, I taught 16 workshops – in various cities across the US & Canada. Nearly all my workshops sold out, and some had to add on a second date to keep up with student demand. I really, really love teaching these workshops, too! Over the course of the year, I have really tweaked and perfected how I run my classes, and they really just get better with each new one I lead. For 2019, I am keeping up with a similar schedule with an emphasis on more West Coast classes – about 3/4 of next year is already listed, so take a look at my upcoming classes if you are interested in attending one!

It’s still a bit shocking to me that this is what I do to earn my living and pay my bills. It is something I never ever take for granted, something I am thankful for every single day. I cannot thank you guys enough for your endless support – whether you’ve taken a class with me, joined a meet-up, or just encouraged me in some way across the internet. This community is so amazing and I am thankful for every single wonderful person who is part of it!

Anyway, I want to talk about some of my sewing hits and misses of 2018! There are sooo many things I made this year that didn’t get blogged (sorry!), but I made an effort to post at least a small shot of it on Instagram so I could count up a talley at the end of the year (which I believe I only missed maybe 3 things, so, not too bad!). You can view the entire hashtag #lladybird2018 here on Instagram. And, of course, to see the stuff that did make it on my blog, you can always Lurk My Closet!

Without further ado, my top makes of 2018:

Ginger Jeans made with Robert Kaufman Denim
Ginger Jeans + Hemlock Tee

I think this outfit should win the prize for being worn the most! These are the jeans I made to promote my jeans workshops for this year (using the same Robert Kaufman Super Stretch denim that my samples are made with) and they are probably my favorite part of jeans I’ve made to date! The stretch denim is incredibly comfortable, which makes them ideal for traveling. This denim holds its shape well between washings, which again is wonderful when you are living out of a suitcase. I wore that hemlock tee almost as much throughout the year – again, it’s great for traveling! You’re basically looking at my unofficial flight outfit for nearly every trip I took this year πŸ™‚

Sewaholic Fraser Sweatshirt made with stretch fleece from Mood Fabrics
Fleecy Fraser Sweatshirt

No lie, I’m kind of surprised this shirt only came of age this last year! I have worn it to DEATH, like, I think people are sick of seeing me in it haha. I love that this shirt is reasonably basic/plain without being boring, and the color is one I’ve really been digging a lot this year. It works equally well dressed up with jeans and a collared shirt, or to stay warm while lounging on the couch in my PJs.

Linen Kalle Shirt
Cropped Linen Kalle Shirt

This shirt was a lot of fun to wear during the summer! I love the oversized, boxy shape combined with the rumply linen, and while white isn’t necessarily a color that I gravitate to very often – I sure did when it came to this shirt!

AMH Popover Tank
Popover Tank + Navy Lander Pants

As much as I love those Robert Kaufman Ginger jeans that I mentioned earlier, I’m not so keen on wearing them when it is crazy hot outside. These navy tencel Lander pants were the perfect sub for keeping my legs covered while not making me sweat to death. Again, this was an outfit I wore a LOT while traveling. And I’m so happy I finally found a good pattern to use with my treasured fabric from Egypt!

Tilly & The Buttons Seren Dress
Tropical Seren Dress

Y’all. I wore this dress to SO MANY fancy dinners, cocktail hours, first dates, art crawls, and sometimes even when I just needed a little pick-me-up on an otherwise boring/shitty day. It’s an attention-grabbing dress that is easy and comfortable to wear, looks pulled together, and goes with most of the shoes in my closet (this is important).

Niizo Be Strong Backpack
Be Strong Backpack

Ok, so this is a more recent make that I’ve only been able to use for a couple of months – but it has been SUPER useful! I’ve all but retired my old backpack in favor of this new one. The slightly smaller size has been perfect for my needs (without giving me an option to overpack) and I really love the way it looks.

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric
Alexander McQueen Quart Coat

I know I just posted this so I’ll try to keep the gushing to a minimum. But! I love this coat! I feel so pretty and pulled together when I’m wearing it, it’s super warm, and it gets me more compliments than anything else I made this year. I am of course proud of the construction and how it turned out, but I also really love it because it reminds me of my friend Anokhee, who gave me the amazing fabric!

And now for some favorites that didn’t make it to the blog:

ariana dress
Ariana dress

I made this with rayon from the OG Workroom Social line, and it certainly saw a lot of wear this year! I actually hated the dress until it was finished – sewing it was basically one huge mistake/problem after another – and I was really unsure how it would look on me until I had sewed the buttons on. But it love it now, so all is well!

rayon hudson pants
Rayon Hudson Pants
These were really fun to sew, used up some of the cool fabric I bought in Egypt, and are great for warding off an a/c chill in the summer.

ginger jorts
Ginger Jorts
After years of complaining that I needed some new denim shorts, I finally made a pair hahaha

burberry scarf
Burberry Scarf Blanket
Probably the simplest thing I made this year, but I LOVE THIS SCARF. It’s basically a fashionable blanket, which is perfect for someone like me who is always cold.

yay!
Dolce & Gabbana party dress
More on this in a future blog post!! But, to brief – this may be my favorite fabric ever (a matelasse from Dolce & Gabbana), and I’m so delighted how the dress turned out! I made it to wear to a good friend’s wedding.

hudson joggers
Grey Knit Hudsons
Another pair of Hudsons haha, this time specifically for the cold. This is an incredibly boring thing to write about, but I wear them as frequently as I think I can get away with and am legitimately sad when they have to go in the wash. After years of being a die-hard PJ Set kinda gal, I’m definitely veering in a new direction when it comes to loungewear.

Misses for 2018:
Surf to Summit Top made with Mood Fabrics
Workout Tank + Shirt

Despite my best intentions, these pieces just did not turn out the way I had hoped – I think due to fabric choice. I never wore them and ended up donating both of the tops. The yoga pants, however, are FABULOUS and I wear them often! So there is that!

French Terry Stella Hoodie Dress
Stella Hoodie Dress

I don’t know! I think this dress is so cute but I really only wore it once! It is really short, and makes me feel a bit exposed (and while the leggings + sneakers is cute, I don’t feel like it’s my “look” and it feels weird to wear). I may cut this into a top and see if it gets more mileage that way.

Organic Twill Jenny Overalls
Jenny Overall Shorts

Despite a hoard of people reassuring me that I should wear these forever and another hoard of people trying to tell me how to fix them so I would, I really just don’t like these at all. The waist is tight, and I just don’t like the way I look in overalls. And even though they are shorts, they are too hot to wear in the summer! I may try a pair with full length legs in the future, but these are not my jam.

popover tank
Watermelon popover tank
Looks super cute, but I absolutely hated this fabric. It’s a super tight weave with no give, which is vaguely uncomfortable to wear and also incredibly unflattering. Big ol’ no on this one.

denim skirt
Snap front denim skirt
I started with a pattern that had a different fit than what I ultimately wanted (the waist was lower than I realized), and I overfit this so much it doesn’t really sit right on me. Also, front snaps really are not ideal for a skirt. I have had many wardrobe malfunctions with this one haha. All it takes is one tiiiiiny snag and it’s WHY HELLO UNDERWEAR lol

There is so, so, SO much more I could say about all my makes this year, but these were the really major hits and misses! Honestly, I love most of what I made (it was hard to narrow down my list to what I’ve shown here – which is still admittedly a lot!) which is a pretty great feeling! I feel like I’m finally coming to terms with my style and the colors I like to wear – which means there are less pieces that go unloved. Really zeroing in on WHY I don’t like a certain garment (color, shape, fabric, etc) has helped me avoid making that mistake again in the future.

IMG_6671

Other notable things to happen this year:

  • As I mentioned – I led a lot of workshops this year! Starting in Nashville, and then traveling to Brooklyn NY, Durham NC, Alexandria VA, Ottawa Canada, New York City, North Hampton NH, Biddeford MA, Claryville NY, Berkeley CA, and Paducah KY! WHEW!
  • While most of my workshops are held in sewing shops or studios, there were 2 that ended up in very different environments! The first one was in Durham, where I taught an Archer Shirt workshop at Spoonflower Headquarters (and that is where the above photo was taken. No one told me the print I chose was also the wallpaper in the Greenroom haha). Then in July, I went to NYC to teach a Jeans Workshop at Google! Yes, THAT Google and yes you better believe I brag about that shit all the time BECAUSE IT’S RAD AS HELL.
  • In addition, I was lucky to have a few opportunities to take day / weekend trips to some of the cities near where I was teaching. I spent some time in Washington DC, Baltimore MD, Montreal Canada, Hartford CT, Boston MA, and Long Island NY (just this past week with my mom, for Christmas!). I really wanted to take a *real* vacation somewhere outside of the US, but by the time I had planned my class calendar there wasn’t time left to leave the country! Oh well, maybe next year haha
  • Oh, and I finally led my first intensive at Camp Workroom Social! For the past couple of years, I’ve worked as an assistant to Amy in the Bra Making class, which is always so much fun – but this year, I was offered my own class teaching jeans! I had 14 students (!!!), two amazing assistants (Kelli & Gabriela), and overall it was an incredible experience. I can’t wait to come back next year for another class!
  • Because of all this traveling, I’m happy to announce that I am officially Silver status with Delta Airlines. ha! I know that’s like the tiniest shitty baby status to have (so many of my friends are Gold, Platinum, or even Diamond) but Y’ALL let me have this moment, ok. I’ve never earned airline status before haha.
  • I took a class with GertieΒ when she was here in Nashville! Gertie’s original Blog for Better Sewing was the first sewing blog I really fell in love with, and after years of following her from across the internet like a damn creeper, I was really excited that we were hosting her for a workshop at Craft South! We ended up with an empty seat in the class, which I took advantage of (#workperks). It was so interesting to be in a class from a student’s perspective, and she is truly a wonderful teacher and just an amazing person in general. Not to mention, she really does look like a porcelain doll in real life. It would be maddening if she wasn’t such a nice person haha.
  • My side work as a professional seamstress for photoshoots/private clients (mainly celebrities and/or modeling agencies) picked up a bit this year, too! I had a few big shoots and some really cool clients, and a few of the pieces I worked on ended up on the red carpet for some of the award ceremonies that happen here in Nashville – the CMAs, Sesac, and the BMI awards. I can also officially say that 2018 was the year I got to touch a celebrity’s butt.
  • I was pretty excited to be featured on the Love to Sew podcast earlier this year! I had sooo much fun chatting with Helen & Caroline and I think you can tell by the length of the episode – it’s one of their longer ones! (what can I say – once you get me talking, I never shut up lol).Β Here is my episode if you want to listen to it.
  • I paid off my car this year! After 2.5 years of payments, that felt pretty good! Next up – I want to buy a house! I got pre-approved for a mortgage and now i’m currently shopping around πŸ™‚

In my personal life, it has been a difficult year. I’m still grappling with all the shit that comes when you lose a loved one, and I’ve also had to deal with loss in other ways this year – loss of friendships, people moving away, and also a pretty devastating breakup that knocked me flat on my ass when I was least expecting it. For me, this year has been all about growth, patience, letting go of things I can’t control, and taking control of the things that I have power over. I still have a lot to work through and a lot of ways in which I can grow, but things get a little bit better every day.

Anyway, I don’t want to end this on a sad note, so here’s a photo of Amelia sitting like an absolute lady next to my sewing machines.

fullsizeoutput_12f0

Happy New Year, everyone! Here is to a bright and beautiful 2019!

Completed: The Quart Coat, in Alexander McQueen Fabric

14 Dec

Well y’all. This post has been a LONG time coming – hopefully it was worth the wait!

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

I made a coat! Big whoop, amirite? It’s been a minute since I sewed a real coat – I just don’t live in a climate that warrants a serious need for multiple coats. Which is a bummer because I really LOVE sewing me some coats! And I actually sewed two this year – but I just want to talk about this one first. Like I said, it has been a long time in the making!

I received this fabric way back in May of 2016, actually! It took me a solid year to decide what I wanted to make with it, then nearly another year to actually start the project. And while I finished this earlier in 2018 (in February, it appears) – it has taken me this long to get some photographs of it! So yeah, this might be my longest project to date!

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

So – a little bit about the fabric! This fabric is actually Alexander McQueen coating from a prior collection. It is 100% wool, solid black, and has laser printed skulls all over that you really only see in certain lighting. I wasn’t able to find what this fabric was used for in AM’s collections, but it’s essentially a medium weight (on the lighter side of medium weight, to be specific) coating. It’s super, super amazing.

The coating was actually given to me – you know, back in 2016 – courtesy of my friend Anokhee. She originally bought it from Darrell Thomas Textiles in Ottawa, Canada (where she also teaches!). If you are thinking “wow Lauren that’s a really fucking generous gift” YOU WOULD BE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. I was floored when I received the fabric, and am honestly still a bit dazzled every time I wear my coat. I didn’t really know Anokhee that well when she sent me the fabric – we were email/internet buddies, seeing as she lives in Canada and I’m in Nashville – but this year, I actually got to hang out with her several times when I was in Canada to teach my Jeans Workshops at Darrell Thomas Textiles! I’ve even sat in her hot tub, so, basically, yes she’s an amazing friend.

And speaking of Darrell Thomas Textiles – if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen this name pop up a few times. Darrell’s shop gets some of the BEST high-end designer fabric I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been really lucky to be the recipient of a few special pieces, as well as be able to shop there in person! In addition to this McQueen fabric, I’ve gotten some amazing Dolce & Gabbana prints (stay tuned for a blog post on one of them!), as well as pieces from Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and other gorgeous pieces that aren’t necessarily attributed to a specific designer but are still stunning as hell. While these pieces definitely, absolutely are not cheap – they are unique, special, and high-quality. I realize this post just sounds like a giant advertisement, so I’m gonna stop now, but – just wow. Check out his Instagram if you want some eye-candy to creep on.

Ok, back to my coat!

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

So, yes, I hemmed and hawed when it came to cutting this fabric! First, I couldn’t decide on a pattern. Then, I went through a lot of second-guessing with the fit, post-muslin. Once I powered through and cut all the (many, many) pieces, the actual construction of this garment went pretty quickly (according to my Instagram – it took about two weeks!). I don’t generally second-guess myself and I rarely treat my fabric like it is some kind of precious gold, but in this case, I am glad I took my time to figure out exactly what I wanted because the finished coat is basically perfect as far as I’m concerned!

The pattern I chose is the Quart Coat from Pauline Alice Patterns. I love the military look of this style, and I felt it would pair well with my McQueen fabric. Especially since my fabric can look either solid black or covered in skulls, depending on the light!

I cut a 36, and my preliminary muslin looked preeetty good except that there were some light pulls near the bust, which is usually indicative of needing a full bust adjustment. For the life of me, I could NOT find a way to add room at the bust with these particular pattern pieces! The princess seams come out of the arm hole, not over the bust, and every tutorial I found (or reference in my dozens of fit books) only covered the latter. And half of them wanted to add a dart – which I didn’t want in my coat. I tried several different things and agonized for months. I knew this fabric was expensive, hard to come by, and I wanted to do it right! But you know what? I ultimately decided, fuck it, and went ahead and cut the coat. Part of this was because the drag lines were indeed really subtle – super minor. The other part was me realizing that muslin doesn’t have the same “give” that regular garment fabrics do, and there was a good chance those minor fitting issues would be resolved by simply using a different fabric. I’m not always right, but I was right in this case. The wrinkles disappeared, the coat looks fabulous, and life goes on.

After getting past that and cutting aaaaalll those pieces, I was ready to sew! I actually started a little log to keep track of how long my progress was taking. JUST THE PREP ALONE (cutting, marking, underlining, etc) took 8.5 hours! I stopped keeping track after that (ha!) but I always tell this to people when they suggest I do some custom sewing for them. Bitch, u can’t afford me.

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Since the coating is on the lighter weight side, I opted to underline all my pieces with a cotton flannel. This adds a layer of support (necessary as this is a quite structured coat) as well as additional warmth. I used a Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel for this purpose; I had purchased it with the intention of another project that I ended up scrapping. If you’re curious, this is the specific flannel I used inside my coat haha. While I find Mammoth Flannel to be really reasonably priced (and it is SO NICE!), it is a bit expensive to use as underlining. That said, I already had the fabric so I didn’t see any point in buying something else, even if it did cost less.

Underlining definitely took the longest. I like to underline by hand, which means a looong time of sitting at my cutting table, with endless hand-basting. I use cotton thread (silk is nice too, but cotton is what I had on hand!) and create long basting stitches, which are then removed as the pieces are sewn together. After the pieces are sewn by machine, I trimmed all the flannel from the seam allowances and then catchstitched the seam allowances down (again, by hand) to keep them nice and flat. It’s a lot of extra effort, but this fabric deserves that effort!

The lining is a solid black silk charmeuse, which I bought at Mood Fabrics on one of my many trips to NYC. I love, love LOVE using silk charmeuse for coat linings – it’s heavy and warm, and it looks expensive as hell. Just the way silk charmeuse catches the light when you wave it around delights me to no end. Why I chose black – well, I had considered using a fun lining color, like red or teal. But while shopping, nothing at the store really appealed to me. I also feel like most RTW (not all, but a lot of them) use coordinating and matching linings, rather than contrast. I wanted my coat to look like it could have come from the shop, and also, black on black just looks good.

Since my coat was all black, that gave me a little freedom to choose something more contrasting for the buttons and sleeve zippers – so I went with BRIGHT SHINY GOLD!!! I just love how this turned out, I think it really adds a luxurious touch that isn’t over-the-top. My buttons are from Mood Fabrics (they are actually Marc Jacobs hahahaah!), and my zippers are from Sil Thread (in the NYC Garment District). I spent a long time trying to find hardware that had the same tone and brightness, so they match well.

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

A few things about the construction – one, I definitely put the pleats in backwards. Whoops! It doesn’t bother me, but, if you noticed that – yes, I am aware. I did not do any traditional/heavy tailoring with this garment. Part of this is because I just wanted to finish the damn thing – and part of it is because I’ve learned I don’t really like wearing heavily tailored coats. I dunno, they just feel a little too precious to me, and I’m scared I’ll mess them up somehow! Also, my padstitching always ends up going wonky if the coat gets stored with the lapels in the wrong place, and I can’t ever seem to steam them back into submission. So while this coat has some basic tailoring – the fronts are interfaced (with a fusible weft, before I added the underlining), there is a back stay, and I added both shoulder pads and sleeve heads – I left off the fancy stuff like horsehair, padstitching, and bound button holes (just machine ones here!). Sacrilegious? Sure. Whatever you say.

I don’t know what else to say about this project, so just have a photo dump:

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Oh! Here’s another piece from Darrell Thomas Textiles – one of my precious Burberry wools! I actually have two of these (the other one is the classic tan, which I believe they just got a new shipment in at the shop), both of which I made into simple blanket scarves. I started with a yard of fabric, which I cut in half lengthwise and then seamed together (with a flat-felled seam) to create a rectangle that is 28″ wide by 70″ long. I then hemmed the two long sides with a 1/2″ seam folded twice and edgestitched down. On the tan scarf, I also hemmed the short ends – and on this one, I teased out a little fringe! I have always wanted one of these Burberry scarves – and while the fabric was not cheap (I don’t remember the exact amount, I think it’s somewhere in the realm of $150-$170 CAD per yard), it is definitely cheaper than buying from Burberry! And it’s basically a giant blanket, which is the best thing ever πŸ™‚

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

So, there’s the long story saga of my Alexander McQueen coat! Cheers to you if you’re still here reading πŸ™‚ Big thanks to Anokhee for her incredibly generous gifts – both the fabric and for introducing me to the wonder that is Darrell Thomas Textiles! Another giant thanks to my student Elisa, who graciously took these photos for me during my workshop at Stitch Sew Shop earlier this month! In closing, I will leave you with this beautiful cheese plate that we destroyed immediately after:

and a cheese plate <3

Have a great day, everyone!

Completed: Pinnacle Sweatshirt

11 Dec

Have y’all seen the new Geo Collection from Papercut Patterns? It’s no big secret that I am a DIEHARD Papercut Fangirl, but this recent collection really blew me away more than usual (which is saying a lot!). I love everything that was released and have many plans!

To start, I wanted to try out the Pinnacle Top. I find this pattern really interesting as it can be made with either a woven or a knit, which really changes the finished look! I love the geometric design on the front, and the pattern itself has some crazy looking pieces that come together in a very origami-like fashion. Pretty standard of Papercut Patterns, which is part of what I find so appealing about them!

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

I really want to try the v-neck version of this pattern, in a soft linen or even a drapey silk – but for this time of year, the sweatshirt is king. I love that I can sew my own sweatshirts, which gives me the ability to add cool design features or use fancy fabrics. Nothing like the basic stuff I wore when I was a kid! And this pattern looked like it would be fun to put together, and I assumed correctly.

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

I had this super soft bamboo French Terry in my stash that I purchased from Mood Fabrics earlier this year… it comes in a load of amazing colors, and while I WANTED to stick with my TNT black/grey colorways, I went a little wild and ended up with 2 yards of Moroccan Blue. Almost more like a teal, this is a very deep, rich blue. I love it and I’m happy to report it’s seamlessly worked its way into coordinating with *most* of my wardrobe (unlike some colors that I try out and then realize I have nothing to wear them with!).

The fabric itself is amazing. Like I said, it is super soft on both sides, thanks to the bamboo. The terry loops are very fine and small, which means the fabric isn’t bulky – but it is dense and heavy. It also has a great amount of 4 way stretch, which makes me think this would be an ideal fabric for lounge pants (leggings, joggers, whatever keeps ya warm on the couch). At $20/yard, it certainly is not cheap – but it’s super fucking wide (I still have quite a bit left from my 2 yard cut after making this sweatshirt) and it washes and wears great. The only downside I have noticed is that it does wrinkle when you store it folded in the drawer – which is easily solved by tossing it in the dryer for a few minutes before wearing (and bonus, it’s like PUTTING ON A HUG! omg you guys why I am I so alone). Traveling or don’t have a dryer? Laying it out flat in the bathroom while taking a hot shower also does the trick!

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

I’m sorry, I don’t know how I ended up with so many of what is basically the same picture. It’s either feast or famine when it comes to me and my camera, deal with it.

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

So, the pattern piece for this shirt is really interesting! It’s GIGANTIC (which means you really do need to pay attention to the fabric requirements), and goes together in a way that makes a shirt with no shoulder seams. The pieces are assembled with center front seams (in the form of this cool-ass triangle) and a center back seam, then closed with side seams (which gives you the chance to tweak the fit a little if needed). I made mine with one piece of fabric, although the geometric design on the front would lend itself well to colorblocking. For a little added interest, I used the wrong side out on the top triangle of my shirt, so you can see the texture of the French terry there, but the shirt in general is pretty monochromatic otherwise.

I sewed a size XS based on my measurements, which gives a nice, roomy fit. For future makes, I may side down to the XXS as I feel like I’m swimming a little in this version.

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

Construction-wise, not much to report here. I sewed this almost entirely my serger, which made this a really fast and efficient make. My one tip is to be careful with where the seams intersect at the center front, and baste them in place (either by machine or by hand) before sewing them for real. The seamlines matching are pretty essential to this shirt looking good, and if you baste them first, you can rip them out if they don’t match up!

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

I’ve been wearing this sweatshirt a lot since I finished it – it’s perfect for staying cozy around the house, but also looks pulled-together if I need to step out or have an unexpected delivery. Secret pajamas are always a go in my world!

*Note: The fabrics used in this post were provided to me by Mood Fabrics, in exchange for my participation in the Mood Sewing Network. All opinions are my own!

Completed: Niizo Be Strong Backpack

30 Nov

I made another backpack! While my original Freedom backpack from Niizo has been holding strong (and been schlepped across the US many times over the past 2 years), a couple months ago I was offered the opportunity to try the newly updated Be Strong backpack pattern from Niizo. While I don’t necessarily need a new backpack (what is a “need,” anyway, amirite), I was looking forward to the chance to sew one up! Niizo patterns – as well as the kits – are some of my favorite satisfying projects to work on.

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

I also, in all honesty, have been yearning for this specific pattern since I first discovered Niizo a couple of years ago. The patten was only available as a PDF with no included kit, and I wanted the kit… so I stuck with the Freedom backpack. But now the Be Strong backpack has been updated with some new features, and comes with a kit option. Yeah! And let me tell you – it is as good as I was expecting it to be!

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

The Be Strong backpack is a bit similar to the popular Herschel backpack – with a large zippered opening (no flap) and a 3-D zippered pocket on the front. The backpack features padding in the back and the straps, adjustable straps, a few interior pockets and exterior pockets, and a leather-wrapped handle. It also has a cool hidden pocket on the side that can be used to hold small items that you need to reach quickly – such as your phone, wallet, passport, etc (I don’t think this pocket is exactly pickpocket-proof, as it’s pretty visible, so obviously use some common sense if you are traveling somewhere that this could be an issue. But for schlepping around the airport and not wanting to dig through a huge bag to find your cash, this thing is AWESOME).

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Of course, you can buy the pattern solo and use your own fabrics, but I wanted one of those sweet kits! I chose the kit with the waxed canvas, in the khaki colorway. The lining is waterproof nylon fabric, and the contrast is a basic cotton. The kit also includes all the zippers (with leather pulls!), leather pieces (with the holes pre-punched, as well as waxed thread for sewing them), nylon strapping and adjustable sliders, and foam. Basically, all you need to supply is the thread and sewing machine.

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

I wasn’t sure what waxed canvas would be like to work with, but this stuff was really nice! The biggest thing I noticed was that it finger-pressed with absolutely NO effort – I didn’t need to use my iron at all! And while it does have a good amount of body (the backpack is completely empty in these photos, fyi), it isn’t hard to wrangle around and manipulate under the sewing machine. Although, there were a couple of points when I was literally sweating while I was sewing it haha. For the most part, it was fairly straightforward and super relaxing to make up. I found it easier to sew than the Freedom backpack – primarily because you don’t have to pull the entire backpack through a small hole in the lining (which can get difficult with all those layers + foam). Instead, you assemble + line the front and back, and then connect them. That connecting seam is then covered with a cotton binding. It looks REALLY nice and makes sewing the backpack soooo much easier!

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

I did encounter one big problem when I sewed this – I actually finished the entire thing (including hand-stitching the binding for a really clean and flawless finish), went to put it on… and realized I’d attached the zippered panel in backwards. Which meant the bulk of the backpack went toward the back of the pack, not the front. I don’t know how i managed to mess that up, but after a few minutes of thinking about what I was going to do, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to be happy with a half-assed backpack. I knew I’d never use it. So… I ripped the pieces apart and re-did the backpack. It added an extra day to this project, but I’m so glad I fixed it!

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

The backpack is slightly smaller than the Freedom backpack, but still big enough to carry my laptop (a 13″ MacBook Pro), along with my ipad, Kindle and Field Bag full of whatever I’m knitting. I prefer a smaller backpack as it means I’m not tempted to overpack, which can get quite heavy! This one has been the perfect size for the last 2 trips I’ve brought it on. I especially like that it holds its shape when it’s less full, which makes it good for a daypack to carry while exploring around a city.

Oh, and in case you were wondering – the “Nope” patch is from Mood Fabrics!

And, because I’m a spoiled brat… I also got a kit to make the Fortune Wallet:

Niizo Fortune Wallet

I’ll spare you another 20 photos and direct you to this Instagram post, where you can see lots of sexy close-ups (or just stay here and admire how beautiful this wallet looks when taken in Portrait Mode haha).

The kit I chose was the royal blue colorway, and again, it included everything I needed to sew the wallet. This was a SUPER easy project that I finished in the course of a couple of days, to warm myself up for the backpack. Not really much to report here – everything came together perfectly and now I have an adorable wristlet that I can carry when I just need my wallet/phone and am lacking pockets.

My biggest advice for making one of these patterns (whether you buy just the PDF or order the kit – but – you should order the kit! They are really nice!!) is to TAKE YOUR TIME. Don’t try to rush the project – go slow, take accurate measurements and rip out stitching when you fuck something up. The #1 reason why these look so good is because I didn’t cut corners at any point in the construction. My other smaller tip is to try using a e-reader or your computer for the instructions, rather than print them out. I use my iPad – this was originally to save on paper, but I found that I can zoom in on the photos if a particular step is confusing. Can’t do that on a printed sheet of paper! (or can you? Are we in the Matrix yet?)

Niizo Be Strong BackpackLast thing! Niizo is currently offering a discount on all items in their Etsy shop! Yay!

🍎Dec 1st βˆ’13th 10% off on all items in the niizo Etsy shop

🍎Find out the coupon code in the maze. It is valid from Dec 1st βˆ’ 7th, 15% off (when you spend over US$15)

To get the secret coupon code, you must solve this maze. Need more clues? Visit these websites for the other pieces of the map:

☞ https://lladybird.com/

☞ https://www.instagram.com/trine.schroeder

☞ http://bymyhand.net/

Completed: Professor Meow Sweater

31 Oct

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to knit an official cat lady sweater, but, here we are.

Professor Meow sweater

The sweater in question was actually knit much earlier this year – I finished it way back in April – but barely had time to wear it, let alone photograph it, before the weather warmed up too much. I’ve really enjoyed rotating it back into my regular wardrobe now that the temperatures have cooled down a bit, so here it is! Never too late for a blog post!

Professor Meow sweater

Also, if my surroundings look different – well, they are! I’m currently on the other side of the US, a little more than halfway through my 10 day stint in Berkeley, CA while I teach some workshops at Hello Stitch! This adorable AirBNB is probably the cutest place I’ve ever “lived” (other than my own house, OBVIOUSLY) and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to take some photos while I’m here!

Professor Meow sweater

Professor Meow sweater

Professor Meow sweater

Professor Meow sweater

So what is this magical garment of Peak Cat Lady, you ask? The pattern is Professor Meow from KnitPicks. I found this pattern entirely by chance – I wasn’t necessarily looking to make a cat sweater (although, clearly, I think I should have been), but once I saw it I knew that was going to be my next project. I stuck with the suggested yarn, Knit Picks Wonderfluff, which really is pretty wonderful and fluffy. I don’t typically knit with acrylic blends, but this one has some additional alpaca and merino which makes it super soft with a nice fuzzy halo. Since it’s a bulky yarn, it knits up really quickly. A quick swatch had me go down a needle size to a #10 , which is typical for me.

The sweater is knit flat in 2 pieces, with the cat design achieved by some basic intarsia. This actually isn’t my first intarsia project – I have another sweater that I finished right before this one that that I’ve yet to actually photograph/share (in my defense… it’s even warmer than this one, so the weather hasn’t really cooperated YET haha) – but it was good for practice! After the front and back are knit, the pieces are seamed, then the little sleeve ribbing is knit in the round, as well as the neckline. I did change how the neckline was knit, as I didn’t like the way it was written in the pattern (a basic ribbing with a bind off at the end). Since knitting my last couple of sweaters, I’ve really come to love and appreciate a nice knit neckband that is folded over with the live stitches secured down, like with my Martine Sweater. So that’s what I did with this one, and I think it looks much nicer. I *generally* try to follow knitting instructions as they are written, but sometimes a girl’s gotta go her own way!

Professor Meow sweater<

Professor Meow sweater

After blocking the sweater (which, even if you normally skip blocking I do HIGHLY recommend blocking this yarn, as it really softens and relaxes with a good block!), I used yarn to stitch the whiskers on as directed by the pattern. I left off the kitty pupils because I like the way the cat looks without them.

Hmmm what else? I knit a size 37, so that the sweater would have a little bit of relaxed ease but not be quite as loose as it is on the pattern images. I went boring with the yarn colorway and just got grey on grey, which OF COURSE goes with everything in my closet so I’m pretty pleased with that. Full Ravelry notes are here!Professor Meow sweater

I always love the sweaters that I knit, but this one may be my favorite! It’s pretty silly and quirky, but not so much that I feel ridiculous wearing it in public. Despite being short sleeved, it is quite warm, and the yarn is super soft and fuzzy. It’s definitely pretty attention-getting, and in all honesty I typically prefer to wear this bad boy on first dates. What is it they say – if you can’t handle me in my cat sweater… ? I don’t know.

As a side note – my jeans in this photo deserve a shout out! These are, of course, jeans made by me. But wait, there’s more! These are my ORIGINAL Ginger jeans, the first pair I ever made! I can’t believe they still fit (I’ve gained weight since I made them, but I guess the fabric has stretched along with me, ha!); they’ve been going strong since 2014! If you look closely at the butt, you can see where I have patched them a few times – the fabric is getting thin, and there was one unfortunate incident where I actually tore a hole in the butt immediately at the end of a jeans workshop (hm good thing I had access to a sewing machine to patch it, yet?), but amazingly they are still holding up! Yeah for handmade jeans!