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Completed: Lemon Cabernet Cardigan

18 Apr

See? I told you I made a cardigan with that lemon fabric:

Morgan Jeans + Cabernet Cardi

Coming off the tail end of a season of greys and blacks (whatever, I love looking like a wannabe-goth in the winter, but eventually we all start craving some color), this lemon fabric was like a happy little breath of fresh spring air. As I mentioned in my last post, I love this fabric but the thickness and weight is a little heavier than what I like for my tshirts. I felt like a cardigan would be a good match for the fabric, plus, I’d be able to wear it through the duration of the spring and summer. I personally cannot stand how cold most people keep their a/c’s here in the heat, so it’s always good to have a cardigan on hand that you can throw on to protect against summer frostbite.

 

Morgan Jeans + Cabernet Cardi

I decided to use the Cabernet Cardigan from Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick patterns. This is a great staple pattern because it’s a true ladies-who-lunch classic – fitted, cropped (well, one version is anyway), with set-in sleeves, patch pockets, and a lovely v-neckline. I reckon you can make it a little less Betty Draper depending on the fabric you use, but I love looking like a Kate Spade advertisement whenever I can, so lemon fabric + Cabernet cardigan was exactly the combination I was looking for.

I’ve made this pattern a couple of times before (see: leopard print + navy cotton stripes), so I don’t have too much to add to what I’ve already said. I made the size XXS, in the cropped and fitted version. I had to cut 3/4 sleeves due to fabric restrictions (I cut this before I even thought about lemon underwear, so you can imagine how small my leftover pieces were!), which does make the cardi a little less overwhelmingly lemon.

Morgan Jeans + Cabernet Cardi

Morgan Jeans + Cabernet Cardi

 

I assembled the whole thing on my serger, and used my sewing machine to do all the straight topstitching with a contrast green thread. Since the cardigan doesn’t really need to stretch – except maybe slightly around the cuffs, where I didn’t topstitch anyway – it’s fine to use a straight stitch for this. I also think the single line of straight stitching looks a little more RTW than using a zigzag or a twin needle. I just use a ballpoint needle (and the built-in walking foot that’s on my Pfaff) and it’s all good! Really, this is a quick and satisfying sew. Even when you end up stopping in the middle of it to make undergarments 😛
Lemon Cabernet Cardigan

Lemon Cabernet Cardigan

Lemon Cabernet Cardigan

My favorite part about this fabric are those big splashes of turquoise! It really arts up the lemon print and adds some super gorgeous unexpected color.

Lemon Cabernet Cardigan

Cabernet Cardi

Also super happy with this button match – they are pretty much perfect! Funny story about these buttons – they are vintage glass, and I’d had them on an Etsy wishlist for ages. I actually bought this set at the Nashville Flea Market (for something crazy cheap, like $1 for the whole set) and it wasn’t until months later that I saw the original wish listing on Etsy. It always surprises (and delights) me when I find vintage duplicates, but this time it was actually beneficial haha. Anyway, I am happy I finally found a use for these – they look great with this fabric!

Morgan Jeans + Cabernet Cardi

Anyway, that’s all for this post – I was going to also talk about my pants (which I also made), but I’m going to save that for another post because I feel like there are enough photos of me here at it is haha. Before you ask: they are Morgan Boyfriend jeans. I also made my top ages ago, it’s a Briar tshirt with a straight hem. More on the pants later, though! Today is CARDIGAN DAY.

Also – say hello to my new summer ‘do! I just had this done a few days ago (the photos you see here is when it was like day-after-salon-fresh, so still pretty fresh) and I cannot even express how much I love it! I told my stylist I wanted something brighter for summer, so she did put in this amazing orange with yellow highlights. I feel like I have superhero hair – in the sunlight, it’s practically neon in some spots (I wish the color showed up better in these photos!). It is awesome and I’m going to be so sad when it eventually washes out haha.

Completed: Lemon Print Watson Bra

11 Apr

Gah, I love fruit-themed novelty prints, especially when they are in a fruit that I actually like to eat (as I’ve mentioned before: pineapples, yes, cherries, not really. ha). Lemons have always been one of those things that I always gravitate toward – both in my palate (if it includes lemon – whether it’s a dish or a drink – I will definitely order it) and on my fabric. I haven’t had much luck finding lemon fabric in the past, but 2017 must be trying to make up for starting out so shitty because now I have TWO lemon yardages in my stash!

Well, now only one… but I’ll sew that one up soon, too. I promise.

Lemon Watson Bra

Anyway, here’s the first one – a beautiful lemon-print cotton knit! It’s another piece of fabric that I picked up while I was in Finch Knitting + Sewing Studio back in February. I found it creeping behind another pile of knits, and there was barely any yardage left on the bolt (maybe 1 yard, tops). This was one of those few instances where I threw the fabric in my pile without thinking twice about what I’d actually make with it. The lemon print is very similar to this Kate Spade lemon purse (that I also own, because, duh. Lemons), except that the fabric includes splashes of turquoise, whereas the purse only has bits of green. I didn’t think it was possible to improve on the Kate Spade print, but I acknowledge now that I stand corrected.

Anyway, I spent some time (aka about 10 minutes of thinking and 2 minutes of googling) deciding what to make with my fabric, and I decided on…. a cardigan! 🙂 This knit is a thicker cotton interlock knit – it’s not really the weight that I like my tshirts to be, and the print is too summery to make into a sweatshirt. I thought the cardigan would be a lovely way to wear this print throughout the summer, especially since those things are mandatory here as people really love abusing the a/c. I cut my cardigan pieces, fused my interfacing, and got ready to assemble everything.

Lemon Watson Bra

If you’re sitting here thinking, “Bitch, that’s not a cardigan,” YES I KNOW. I ended up having a grand epiphany somewhere around the time that I was pressing under the seam allowances of the pockets. I was feeling sad that I didn’t have more than scraps of the lemon print left over (generally, I am pleased when I buy exactly enough fabric, but this particular case was a time for mourning and self-reflection), and suddenly wondered if I could squeeze a pair of panties out of the leftovers. I pulled the pieces out of my scrap bin – and, nope, the scraps were too small. But you know what? Bras don’t use big pieces of fabric…

Lemon Watson Bra

Obviously, I stopped everything I was doing and immediately started making a bra instead.

Lemon Watson Bra

I used the Watson Bra & Bikini pattern from Cloth Habit, as it’s designed to be made with stretch knits. Due to my fabric restraints, I could only squeeze out the short-framed version – which I like better, anyway, as I think the longline would be too much. I made my regular size, which is a 30D.

Lemon Watson Bra

Lemon Watson Bra

For the notions, I raided the hell out of my stash. For some reason, I have all these coordinating yellow notions – powermesh, strapping, picot elastic – even though I look terrible in yellow. The hook and eye and rings and sliders were harvested from an old bra, and I made the turquoise bow with a scrap of ribbon. I used cream-colored thread to topstitch because I didn’t want it to compete with all the lemons.

Lemon Watson Bra

Lemon Watson Bra

Lemon Watson Bra

The entire bra is lined with lightweight yellow powermesh. Lining is not totally necessary with this pattern (I have made unlined versions before), but I wasn’t sure what the recovery was like on this knit, since it’s 100% cotton. So I added the powermesh as another layer of support. As you can see, I serged the inside seams with turquoise serger thread – it seemed like a good idea at the time, but I’m not really crazy at the effect. Rather than being a cute tie-in with the outside turquoise, it kind of just looks like I didn’t have matching thread. Oh well, whatever, inside of the bra.

My last short frame Watson bra isn’t exactly the most supportive thing I own – it’s fine for it’s purposes (TBH, I don’t need a lot of support and have lately just not been wearing a bra at all LOL FREEEEEEDOM), but I didn’t want the same thing to happen with this bra. The main problem with the coral bra is that the bridge is too stretchy – so it doesn’t hold the cups in place. For this bra, I used sheer cup lining (from my stash, but Tailor Made Shop sells it!) on the bridge – and then covered it with the powermesh – to keep that area completely stable. Powermesh isn’t stable enough on it’s own – not even with two layers of stretch going in opposite directions (which was the case with the coral bra), but the sheer cup lining definitely worked an this bra is much more supportive!

FYI, I sewed the entire bra on my sewing machine – other than the serged parts, which was just to finish the edges (so they look nice, they’re not exactly going to unravel). I used a straight stitch for construction, and a zigzag for attaching the elastic. I have done this with all my other knit bras, and even my swimsuits, and haven’t had any issues with the stitches breaking. Definitely use a ballpoint needle, though!

Watson Panties

And, if you were curious… I did find a way to squeeze out some matching underwear hahaha!

Watson Panties<

My scraps were way too tiny to cut even the front piece out (even before I cut out the bra pieces), so I chopped up my pattern and added some ~style lines~ to incorporate a little bit of the print in an otherwise plain pair. FYI, this is the matching panty pattern that comes with the Watson set. The yellow fabric is actually merino wool – yeah, I know, merino seems like it might be weird for underwear, but I totally googled that shit and Smartwool definitely sells merino underwear soooo if it’s good enough for Smartwool, I reckon it’s also good enough for me + my butt!

The crotch lining is organic cotton from my stash, and the elastics are also from my stash. I experimented with using turquoise elastic on this pair – it’s pretty cute!

Then I went crazy and made a bunch of other pairs of panties:

Watson Panties

Used a bamboo jersey for this one.

Watson Panties

Cotton interlock, leftover from this dress.

Watson Panties

More merino (I will be honest – I went on a huge merino kick at this point and now I have a full set of long underwear for next winter haha). I believe this merino is originally from The Fabric Store – it’s the lighter weight.

Watson Panties

Rayon knit – a leftover from this top (that stretch lace at the top is also from Finch!)

I seriously do not care to make underwear, but it’s kind of a necessary evil – anything I buy in shops just doesn’t fit right, gives me perma-wedgie pretty much all day and it’s very uncomfortable. After assessing my underwear drawer, I realized that I need the elastic around the legs to keep my underwear in place – that’s the only kind that doesn’t ride up on me. It’s been increasingly difficult to find RTW undies that have this, which means I gotta make them. I made several pairs because I wanted to see how the fabrics wear over the course of the day, and if they bag and stretch out. So far, the cotton interlock, rayon knit, and merino wool are the best – but they are all pretty dang comfortable.

Watson Set

And now I have 2 pairs of undies that match my new bra 😀

Lemon Watson Bra

That’s all for now! Next (aka when I take the photos), I’ll show you the cardigan I also made with this fabric!

Completed: The Ebony Tee

4 Apr

Whoa, hello April! It seems like it was only last week that we were celebrating the New Year – and hiding from the cold – and now here we are firmly in the middle of spring. Blooming trees, longer days, and allergies (well, not for this native heh heh heh) everywhere! I thought I’d squeeze out one more sorta-cold-weather-mostly-transitional piece, but after this – I’m sewing for the HEAT, y’all!

Cropped Ebony Tee

The is the Ebony Tee from Closet Case Patterns. I will admit that I was not super crazy about this one when it was first released – just not really my style, and the pictures weren’t doing it for me. It wasn’t under I saw Heather’s structured version and Erin’s drapey green version (yes, I realize these two are complete opposites) that I thought, this could be for me.

I got both the pattern and fabric while I was in Leesburg, VA for my workshop at Finch Sewing Studio. The pattern came directly from Heather herself – Isabelle and I met with her and Renee one evening after class, for pizza and (lots of) drinks. The fabric is from Finch – it’s a beautiful double knit, navy with grey pinstripes on one side, and grey on the other. I chose it specifically to make this pattern – I thought the body of the fabric would look great with the style of the top.

Cropped Ebony Tee

This pattern is a fun variation on the standard tshirt. It fits nice a slim through the upper bust and shoulders, and then shoots straight out into an exaggerated trapeze below the bust. The hem is longer in the back than in the front. I think you need to be careful with fabric choice and length as not to overpower yourself (especially if you are short, like I am!), but the end result is worth it when it does work out.

I made view B, with the scoop neckline, set-in sleeves, and cropped length. I made a size 2, which is my normal size with this company (and it is true to size; I’m about 1/2″ bigger than the suggested body measurements for that size). I did add about 2″to the bottom of the shirt, as it seemed like it would be REALLY cropped based on the pattern pieces. I figured I could always cut it off if it was too long, but the added length is pretty much perfect. I might actually consider adding a tiny bit more for my next shirt, but this length is great for super high-waisted pants. I chose to make elbow-length sleeves, because I didn’t want there to be too much stripe action going on, after learning that less with my Coco dress. With the length of the sleeves and weight of the fabric, this is a good mid-season top. Perfect for the weird weather that happens here in the Spring 🙂

Everything sewed together really easily – I used a serger for the main seams, and my regular sewing machine zigzag with a ballpoint needle for the hems. There are no bands on the sleeve hems, btw – that’s just the wrong side of the fabric (they are rolled up). The only thing I don’t like is that I didn’t pull the neck banding tight enough while I was attaching it, and the neckline is not exactly no-gape. It lies flat when I’m standing, but if I lean over… you can see straight to my bellybutton. I can just wear a tank (or super cute bra!) under this and call it a day, but I will shorten the neckband for future shirts. Neckline binding is so finicky about that – what may be the correct length for one fabric might not stretch enough for something else. In this case, I think my fabric was just a bit too stretchy. Lesson learned!

Cropped Ebony Tee

Cropped Ebony Tee

Cropped Ebony Tee

Since the shirt is so voluminous, I think it looks best with really slim, high-waisted pants. These pants are the Cecilia Pants from Elizabeth Suzann, btw. I think I’ve worn/mentioned these on my blog before, but they are like MAGIC PANTS. They seem to be universally flattering no matter who wears them. The stretch denim is super comfortable, and has a great recovery. The super high waist (up past my navel) looks awesome with a crop top, and the slim legs balance out really voluminous tops. I love these pants!

Also, I am not sure why I took so many pictures of myself for such a simple project. Oh wait, yes I do. My hair looked fucking fabulous that day haha. Can’t say the same about the quality of these photos, but, I’m trying! Really!

Cropped Ebony Tee

Cropped Ebony Tee

Cropped Ebony Tee

Cropped Ebony Tee

Cropped Ebony Tee

I think I’d like to make a version of this for summer, in a lighter fabric (maybe a bamboo knit) with the raglan short sleeves. Would be nice and cool when it gets super hot here!

Cropped Ebony Tee

I can’t think of anything else to say about this pattern. Short and sweet! (Well, about as short and sweet as you’ll get from my blabbermouth haha)

In other news, tell me your favorite interesting t-shirt patterns! I’m about up to my eyeballs in v-neck Renfrews; I think it’s time for something that’s a little more visual than a basic tshirt 🙂

Completed: Pink Flamingo B5526

27 Mar

Another sleeveless B5526! Betcha didn’t see that one coming :B

B5526 Flamingo

I am pretty certain I’ve shared this pattern enough times that it definitely absolutely does not warrant another blog post, but, oh well. My blog, my rules, my pink flamingo shirt haha.

Some very brief info for anyone who is just dropping in for the first time:

  • The pattern is Butterick 5526. Yes, it is my favorite shirt pattern. I’ve made it over and over and over again. It’s a great, versatile pattern that is easy to fit and easy to modify. I lurvs it.
  • I originally cut a size 6, but have made several additional modifications – including shortening the length of the body and making the sleeves full-length (that is, when I add sleeves. Ha).
  • I have only made view D, which has the princess seams. I am sure the other versions are nice, but view D is the only one I have experience with!
  • I have finished my shirts with both flat-felled and French seams. Yes, you can do both on sleeves. Totally possible. I am living proof right here.
  • In other news, I think my sewing machine could sew this thing SOLO at this point.

For those of you who have seen every version of this shirt I’ve made over the years, here’s another one for you to enjoy!

B5526 Flamingo

Isn’t this pink flamingo lawn the cutest? I bought it ages at Craft South, aka where I work a couple of days a week. It’s from the Cotton+Steel Les Fleurs Collection, one of the pieces from their Rifle Paper Co collaboration. I had actually put myself on a fabric-buying ban just that morning (thinking I had enough beautiful fabric that I needed to actually use without buying more) and then this shipment came in. What do you do when you are presented with pink flamingo lawn? YOU BUY THAT SHIT. I got 1.5 yards and I’m glad I did, because it sold out quite quickly!

I’m not generally a fan of Cotton+Steel designs – I appreciate what they do, and I think their fabrics are lovely for quilting – but even the rayons and lawns tend to look, well, quilt-ty (except that cherry print rayon I got a couple of years ago, which is equally gorgeous and ooh I can’t wait until it warms up to wear again!). I think the collaboration with Rifle Paper Co was incredibly brilliant – pretty much all the pieces sold out as soon as they hit the shops – but again, too quilt-y/floral for my tastes. But these flamingos totally appealed to me. They’re kitchsy and novelty without looking too much like I made the shirt myself.

B5526 Flamingo

B5526 Flamingo

When I buy fabric, it’s about a 50/50 even split on whether or not I have a pattern in mind. I try to always have a plan, but sometimes you end up seeing something fabulous that just needs to go home with you RIGHT THEN and you will figure out the logistics later! But for this piece, I knew it would be a great button-up shirt. I actually prefer my button-ups to be in a drapier fabric – soft chambrays and silks are tooootally my jam – but a crisp lawn is also wonderful to make and wear them with. Since I knew I would be making this shirt for summer – aka without sleeves – the 1.5 yards I bought was plenty. I actually cut the pieces within a week or so of bringing the fabric home… and then it just sat for months. ha!

I eventually finished the shirt in February (seriously, months… according to Instagram, I bought that shit back in AUGUST hahahaahaha), when we were having this weird warm spell of 70-80 degree days. I figured if it was gonna feel like summer, I might as well dress the part! Of course, it immediately went back to frigid here, but after that Freak Snow we got at the beginning of March, we are creeping back toward warmer days. Which means I’ll be prepared now!

Part of the reason why I waited so long to finish this shirt is because I was stuck on a few details. I had considered adding piping (Rosa had just been released and I was feeling mad inspired by the black piping detail), but I wasn’t sure what fabric to use to make my self-piping – silk crepe in my stash, or go buy something? How big should the piping be? Where exactly do I want to put it? What should I use to finish the arm holes? Also, I had just finished 2 other button-up shirts and was feeling really shirted-out at that point (that’s totally a thing). So I shoved it in my not-technically-a-UFO-because-I-haven’t-actually-started-it box for a few months. I am glad I waited because I am quite happy with all the design decisions I made!

B5526 Flamingo

I did end up using piping – just around the collar and outsides of both button bands. I made my own self-piping, using 1″ bias strips of silk crepe (ultimately, it was the right color/weight and what I had on hand, so I went with that. I prewashed the silk ages ago, so the shirt should launder up in the machine fine). For the cording, I found a thick cord in my stash that was made with big twists and untwisted it to get 3 narrower cords. I had originally experimented with flat piping, but it looked a hot mess so I unpicked everything and added the cord.

Sewing piping in was very easy – here’s a tutorial from Tilly that goes over it. I can’t remember the last time I sewed piping into a collar (if… ever?) but it went in flawlessly the second time (first time being flat piping… yaaaaah, don’t do that you guys haha). Piping the button bands was really easy because they are separate pieces, so you’re basically just piping a seam. I topstitched 1/8″ away from the piping with black thread, to keep it in place and also cos it looks cool. I also topstitched all my flat-felled seams with black thread as well, to keep the look cohesive.

B5526 Flamingo

B5526 Flamingo

The arm holes and hem are finished with the same 1″ bias silk crepe, to make bias facings. The black buttons are just from Craft South. I bought an extra one so I could sew it on the inside of the button band as a spare, because I am a huge nerd and am delighted by details like that.

B5526 Flamingo

B5526 Flamingo

B5526 Flamingo

I don’t think there’s much else to say about this shirt. This was a fun little project and it layers nicely under a sweater, and will look awesome with shorts in the summer.

B5526 Flamingo

In other news, I know my pictures here aren’t that great. I feel like I am experiencing growing pains with my photo situation. I can’t go outside (ok, I can, but I live in a busy apartment building and I’m not gonna. Sorry.), and the lighting is really lacking inside. I just keep moving around my apartment in search of good light. It’s hard to tell how bad it is from the camera screen, and by the time I upload the pictures, I’m like “fuck it, I’m not taking those again” soo this is what you end up with. In the meantime, I guess it gives prime Lurk opportunities in my living space. That’s my living room! The creepy bust staring at me is named Saul, if you were wondering.

Completed: Craftsmanship Bag

23 Mar

Hi!

Another bag post today 🙂 I’ve been making clothes – tons of clothes – but haven’t had the will to drag myself in front of a camera quite yet. Also, my sewing mojo completely disappeared for a minute there, and this particular project is responsible for reviving it – so it seems appropriate to give it a shoutout!

(My apologies in advance for the quality of these photos – I got a new computer and my photo editing software doesn’t work on the new one, so I’m going through a pretty intense learning curve right now. Also, way to learn on something red. Brilliant move, Lauren :P)

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Anyway, my new bag! This one is another pattern/kit from Niizo, it is the Craftsmanship Bag. I have mentioned before that I don’t care to make bags (I’d rather just buy one really nice one and let someone else do all the sewing work!), but I do really love the ones from Niizo. I think one of my biggest beefs with handmade bags is the materials – they just always look, well, homemade. Quality materials is a big part of making your bag look nice – and it’s hard to source all that stuff, let alone get it to match. Then there’s the issue with the patterns themselves – they are usually much more simple than what you see in a RTW bag, which adds to that whole homemade factor. Thus is the reason why I like sewing bags from Niizo – her patterns have those cool features you see in bags at stores, and you can get a kit with all the supplies you need. The patterns are easy to follow, and the finished bag always look professional. This is my second pattern I’ve sewn from this brand (my first one was the Freedom Backpack,which you can read about my experience here. I have carried that thing several times on my last few trips – including when I went to Egypt – and it is fabulous!), and I had just as good of an experience with this project.

As I mentioned, I used the Craftsmanship Bag kit, as it includes all the materials you need to make the bag (except thread and your sewing tools). I love the quality of the materials that you get – medium weight canvas for the outer, Oxford cotton for the lining, beautiful brass hardware, rugged metal zippers – and that it’s all collected in one neat little package. You also have the option to buy the pattern separately, should you want to use your own materials for this bag. But I like having everything handed to me, so I opted for the kit! It was REAL HARD not to get the same olive green as used in the product photos, but I ended up going with red because I’ve always wanted a red handbag! I love the rich color, especially in contrast to the beige lining. It’s so pretty and happy 🙂

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

This pattern looks deceptively simple, but it has a lot of great features that really make it special. The purse is fully lined with pockets on the inside, and includes a covered zippered pocket on the back, roomy side pockets finished with self-piping, handles and a long adjustable strap, and hand-stitched leather details. The lining pieces are interfaced for additional support (since the outer is a medium weight canvas, this makes the bag quite sturdy), and there is foam at the bottom of the bag as well. I forgot to take a photo of the bottom, but I attached mine with long diagonal rows. You can do any sort of design you want, though, which is kind of fun! 🙂

Sewing-wise, this was much easier to make than the Freedom Backpack. There are tons of little pieces (like the pockets, the straps, etc) that are quick enough to put together so that you can work on this project in short little bursts. I wasn’t sure if I would have a hard time going through all the layers of at those side pockets – with the self-piping, it’s quite thick – but my sewing machine handled it fine. I used a 90/14 needle and didn’t even break one this time! 🙂 I think Amy also increased some of the seam allowances on this pattern, so they’re slightly wider (still 3/8″ and under, but not like, less than 1/4″ as in the version of the backpack I sewed) and thus easier to sew. The instructions were very easy to follow and I had no problem sewing any of the pockets or zippers. Turning the bag right side out was MUCH easier than it had been with the backpack!

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

If you get the kit, you have the option to get the front leather piece stamped with whatever phrase you want. Obviously, I went with my own name, because I am totally one of those people who loves their name. No shame about that.

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

The long strap is attached by a swivel hook, so it’s completely removable if you want to carry the purse by its handles.

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

To be honest, I was the most excited about sewing that zippered top! I have always wanted to learn how to add a zippered top to a lined box bag, and this pattern totally delivered! It’s kind of a weird pattern piece, but it comes together SO satisfyingly and all the seams are completely enclosed.

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Here is the inside of the bag. Ha! There are lined pockets on both sides. I just sewed straight down the middle of each one, so they are all the same size, but you could customize these to be whatever size you wanted – including making little pen holders.

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

I anticipated that it would be impossible to get a shot of the lining, so here it is flat before I put it in the bag. The lining is an Oxford cotton – about the same weight as a quilting cotton. All the lining pieces are interfaced, with the exception of the pockets. I love how the pockets are finished – they are lined with the nylon lining (the same stuff that I lined my Freedom backpack with), and the pattern pieces are measured so that the nylon is longer than the cotton, which when everything is turned and stitched down, you have a nice nylon edge. It’s a really pretty detail.

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Since the bag outer is red, I decided to topstitch the lining with red thread to bring everything together. I used the triple stitch on my sewing machine so that the stitches would be thicker and thus more visible. I love the way it looks – shame it’s on the inside of the bag, ha!

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Here is a picture of the bag with some of my stuff in it, to give you an idea of it’s size and what it can carry! (I should mention – the above photos are all with the bag empty. It holds its shape really well!). The side pockets are big enough to carry a water bottle – there is a dart at the bottom, so they are shaped (not flat). The water bottle in my bag is a S’Well mini, but I reckon most bottles would fit. The bag can also comfortably hold a full-sized iPad Air, and you can zip it closed. I didn’t take a photo of this, but the back pocket also easily holds my phone (which is an iPhone 6 – but there is lots of extra room, so I think a bigger phone would fit too) or my wallet. The interior pockets are also phone-sized.

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

And here is the bag on my dressform, to give you an idea of the size in proportion to a person. It’s not a super tiny bag, but it’s also not giant. The dimensions of my finished bag are approximately 13″ long, 7.5″ tall, and 6″ deep – which is a great size for my needs! The size is pretty similar to the handbag that I use daily, which is a Coach Crosby. Big enough to hold what I need, but not so huge that I’m tempted to fill it with everything I own.

Since I already have a nice leather handbag, I probably won’t be using this bag on the daily (unless I’m going somewhere dirty, like the flea market haha). I primarily made this bag as a replacement for my travel purse. For years, I have used a Po Campo Roscoe Crossbody bag, which I LOVEEEE, but the lining is finally falling apart. I was looking for something to replace it with that was a bit wider (the Roscoe is super flat, which is nice, but then you stuff it with your crap and then it’s not exactly flat anymore haha), and the Craftsmanship bag is exactly what I wanted. I think it’s ideal for travel – you have the option of hand or shoulder straps, there are pockets to hold a water bottle, the top zips shut and there’s a zippered pocket in the back. I haven’t traveled since finishing the bag, but it’s ready to go when I take my next trip!

Craftsmanship Bag by Niizo

Anyway, I guess that’s all for this bag! Who else is into making bags? Have y’all tried a kit/pattern from Niizo yet? What’s your favorite bag to carry – pattern or store-bought?

*Note: Niizo sent me this kit for free, as a thank you for reviewing the Freedom Backpack. I was under no obligation to post about this project, but I truly love how it turned out and felt like it deserved to be shared!

Giving New Life (+ Lining) to An Old Coat

14 Mar

Hi everyone!

Wow. It’s been a minute, huh? Many, many thanks/hugs/appreciation for everyone who reached out regarding my dad. Every single comment, email, text message, card – I read every single one of them. While I can’t possibly reply to every single one of them, I do want to thank all of you, as I found them all so comforting. I feel like I am saying this way too much lately, but y’all truly all are the best.

As it is, it’s time to jump back into real life. Actually, I did that pretty much the day after the funeral – I went to Leesburg, VA to teach a workshop at Finch Knitting and Sewing Studio, which was really wonderful and a very welcome distraction from what I had been dealing with the week prior. The next weekend, I flew to Brooklyn, NY to teach my Jeans Making Intensive and Pants Making Intensive classes at Workroom Social. I just got home about a week ago, and have spent this time trying to catch up all the things I’d set aside while I was gone- boring adult-y things, like work and cleaning my much-neglected apartment. I’ve finally gotten a chance to get back into my normal life indulgences – like sewing! – and man, it feels good to be back!

Before I get into the post, I did want to announce my next upcoming workshop in May! I will be traveling to Hyattsville, MD to teach another workshop at Three Little Birds Sewing Company May 13th and 14th (and also a meet and greet / project gossip the evening of May 12th, because wine). This is like all the other workshops I do (other than the pants-specific ones in Brooklyn, which are also Workroom Social specific ;)) – you get to choose whatever project you want to work on that weekend! Whether you want to make a lined dress, a fabulous pair of jeans, a new winter coat, your first bra, whatever – I’ll be there to support ya! And if you don’t have a particular project that is screaming for support, can I just say that this is also a great excuse to make your sewing a little more social for the weekend 😉 I always have such a great time running these workshops, and I’m so excited to do it again!! You can read more about the workshop here, and also sign up! It’s going to be an awesome weekend 😀

Ok, now for the post!

Re-Lining a Coat - before

This is a bit different that what I usually post about – it involves repairing an existing garment, rather than making a new one from the start. I think most of us have announced at some point or another that we’d rather make a new piece than alter or repair one that needed it. I know I’m guilty of it! But lately, I’ve been making a bigger effort to reduce waste whenever I can, and repairing garments that need it is a great place to do this!

I bought this coat at Banana Republic when I was 19. I remember being super proud of the purchase – it was one of the first “nice” things I ever bought with my own money (well, and the help of some gift cards). It’s not the nicest thing I own – and I can certainly produce better garments out of my own sewing room today – but it’s followed me around for the past 12 years regardless. I love the color and I love the way it fits me. It has certainly seen it’s share of wear over the last decade, though – the lining was shredding in several places (I can specifically vouch that the lining at the hip was probably torn by my studded belt – YES, THAT’S HOW LONG I’VE HAD THIS DAMN COAT), and I recently ripped a huge hole in the sleeve lining while trying to put it on. I realized that I would either need to replace the lining entirely, or just get rid of the coat. Y’all all know that I am pretty much always up for a challenge, so I decided to give it a shot! Worst thing that could happen was that I’d ruin a coat – which, admittedly, was already kind of halfway ruined anyway.

Re-Lining a Coat

Re-Lining a Coat - before

Re-Lining a Coat - before

Here you can see some of the places the lining was tearing. The lining was also discolored, especially under the arms, and wearing very thin in several places.

I actually planned this project last year, in December. I waited until I could go to Mood Fabrics in NYC and pick my replacement lining fabric in person – the green wool is a really unique shade, and I wanted to try to match or coordinate with it as much as possible. Spoiler, I never did find a perfect match to the green (not surprised), but I found a print that I adore, so there’s that!

Re-Lining a Coat - process

This is the silk that I went home with me – it was with the rest of the silk prints on the 2nd floor. I am not sure what type of silk it is specifically – it has a heavy, fluid hand just like silk charmeuse, but it is slightly textured, almost like a twill. I suspect it may also be a blend, because it didn’t take to pressing as well as I would have liked. I bought 2 yards (after consulting with the guy who cut my fabric and going by his suggestion), which ended up being plenty. I actually have leftovers – matching silk top, anyone? 🙂

After I bought the lining fabric, this project had to sit on hold for about 3 weeks while I went to Egypt. I haaate leaving stuff half-finished if I’m going to be gone for longer than a weekend, and this project I especially didn’t want to have a lapse in, since I was kind of winging it. So I didn’t actually start until the end of January, but fortunately it did not take very long!

I should confess: I had every intention of turning this post into a tutorial on how to re-line a coat. I started with a bunch of photos, but as soon as I got to the sewing part – guys, it’s pretty much impossible to photograph these steps. Plus, every coat is a little bit different in how it’s constructed. So this post is more of a loose guide if you’re considering doing this yourself, and I have linked to the resources that I found useful when I was in the throes of my repair. Also, I should point out that I have made several lined coats at this point, so the process isn’t really that different from sewing a coat and then adding the lining. If you have sewn a lined coat, you can totally handle this. If you have yet to hit this milestone in your sewing practice, maybe wait before you tackle this project 🙂

Re-Lining a Coat - lining removed

The first step is removing the lining from the coat entirely. This part wasn’t difficult, but it was annoyingly tedious. I knew I didn’t want to deal with the drama of drafting a lining, so I needed to keep the lining pieces as intact as possible in order to use them as my pattern pieces. I removed the lining from all the way around the facing of the coat, being sure to take notes and photos of anything that I might need to know when I was putting it back in – such as the seam allowances used, how the back pleat was sewn in, stuff like that. This was the #1 reason why I waited to start this project – I knew I’d forget everything while I was in Egypt!

Re-Lining a Coat - lining removed

Pulling out lining can be kind of interesting though – you get to look into the guts of the coat and see how it was put together! I’m always fascinated to see how RTW does things, as opposed to what the home sewer does. For example, they sewed small rectangles of the lining into the seam allowances where one traditionally puts thread chains (such as under the arms). Then, the rectangles were sewn directly to the seam allowances of the outer, eliminately the time it takes to make a thread chain and attach it. I thought that was pretty cool!

Re-Lining a Coat - lining removed

Another thing I found interesting was the tailoring done on the coat. It’s actually pretty nicely tailored (with fusible interfacing), considering its just a coat from Banana Republic.

Re-Lining a Coat - process

After I had the lining out of the coat, I carefully separated all the pieces and marked which one was which. I flattened them with an iron and marked grainlines. I will be honest here – I used a similarly-styled jacket pattern I had in my stash to figure out where the grainlines were. They might be slightly off, but eh, it’s a lining. I could NOT for the life of me see where the grain was on the actually pattern pieces, and the fabric was so delicate that is just kind of disintegrated when I tried to rip it.

One thing I will point out when you are marking your pattern pieces – it is really important to mark the sleeve front and back, and also where the sleeve cap hits the shoulder seam. You can snip directly into the seam allowances before taking the pieces apart – presto, notches 😉

From there, you just lay your pattern pieces on the fabric and cut them out. Remember, they already have seam allowances – no need to add those.

I should also point out that I did not pre-wash my silk before cutting it. Since the jacket outer is wool/polyester, it is dry clean only. Which means this silk will never hit a washing machine, so I didn’t bother to wash it! I DID wash the leftover piece after I finished the coat, and it changed the texture of the silk a bit. More on that if I ever get around to sewing that piece up haha.

Re-Lining a Coat - process

Next, you assemble the lining to make a lining-coat. Easy stuff!

Ummmm so here’s where I stopped taking pictures haha. I had to figure out how to get the lining into the coat shell, and not a single one of those steps was remotely photogenic 😉

You have two options when putting the lining in- One, you can do it the old school couture way, and hand sew it around the entire perimeter of the facing. This is definitely the easier of the two options, but it’s more time-consuming. The second option is bagging the lining into the coat – sewing everything together at the hems and pulling the coat through a hole in the lining. This step is much more fiddly – you have to set everything up properly so you don’t twist the sleeves or whatever, and it totally looks like a hot mess until the very end. Also, I realized this a bit late in the game – but it’s reaaaally finicky to sew the lining to the facing at the neck (where the collar is). The layers are super bulky and you don’t have much of a seam allowance to work with. I made it work, obviously, but I did end up un-picking out my stitches a few times.

If you need help bagging a lining, this tutorial on bagging a lining from Grainline Studio is great. For the back vent, I watched this YouTube video from FashionSewingBlogTV on sewing a lining to a vent.

Re-Lining a Coat - process

So, I bagged my lining, pulled everything from a hole in the sleeve, and then went back on the inside and attached the lining to the shell with thread chains (I wasn’t even gonna try those weird lining rectangle things haha). Then I pressed everything really well, and attached new buttons. Oh, and I sewed the labels back on too – the original BR one, and one from Mood Fabrics (the sizing and fiber info tag is underneath the Mood tag, fyi). It’s kind of a collab coat now, you know?

Sooooo, drumroll pls…

Re-Lining a Coat - after

Yay!!! I just love it so much 🙂

Re-Lining a Coat - after

Due to the new layer of silk, the jacket is actually much warmer now (the old lining was polyester). Always a plus!

Re-Lining a Coat - after

Re-Lining a Coat - after

The colorful new lining makes me so happy!

Re-Lining a Coat - after

Re-Lining a Coat - after

Re-Lining a Coat - after

Re-Lining a Coat - after

Re-Lining a Coat - after

I also replaced the buttons, with something similar but a little more refined. These buttons are from Pacific Trimming, which I also picked up while I was lining shopping. I reallllly wanted to do self-covered buttons, but I could not find anything that remotely matched this green. So I went with tortoiseshell, although these are shank buttons (the original buttons are flat).

Re-Lining a Coat - after

I really enjoyed the challenge of working on this project – in fact, taking things apart and putting them back together was how I originally taught myself how to sew, so it was a cool throwback to revisit those roots. I like doing things that force me to slow down (and/or walk away) and think, and this was definitely one of those. And hell yeah, this coat is finally back in rotation! Feels good!

Note: The silk fabric used in this post were purchased with my monthly Mood Fabrics allowance, in exchange for my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

My Dad <3

24 Feb


Charles Michael Taylor, Sr. // July 10, 1959 – February 18, 2017

My dad passed away on Saturday. For those of you who did not have the privilege of meeting him, he was truly the greatest man I have ever known. I could not have asked for a better father to lead me through life and teach me how to treat people (and show me how to expect to be treated by a man), nor a better love story and ultimate relationship goal than the one he had with my mom. We are absolutely devastated by this loss, but also so incredibly thankful to have had him in our lives for as long as we did. He will truly, truly be missed.

My dad was an absolute badass and he excelled at pretty much everything he did. He was a business owner, a top salesman, a photographer, an incredibly skilled gardener, and could cook you the best fucking steak you’ll ever eat. He was also a distance runner, and when I say distance – I don’t mean 5ks, or even marathons. He regularly ran 500ks (unassisted, I should add) and even qualified and ran the Barkley (if you’re not familiar with this one, there is a fantastic documentary about it on Netflix right now that I highly recommend) – running was his passion, and his favorite races were the craziest ones he could find. The man loved to talk, loved to help people whenever he could, and never met a stranger. He loved to play pranks and is 100% where I get my terrible potty humor and love for butt jokes from. When I was a little kid, he convinced me he could pick up the house and I totally believed him.

Even with his cancer diagnosis, my dad was a fighter who would not be beaten down. He powered through multiple major surgeries (including rescheduling one so that he could run that damn Barkley marathon), chemo, radiation, and endless rounds of hospital and ER visits. I think of him like a blade of grass – no matter how many times he was knocked down, he always bounced right up again. He never once complained, not even when things were at their worst – he was always positive, upbeat, and lived his life to the fullest up until the very end.

The outpouring of support that I (as well as my entire family) have received since last week has been incredible and the sheer amount of comments, messages, phone calls, and texts has been a little bit overwhelming. I can’t possibly respond to all of you, but I do want you to know that I read every single one of them and they were all truly appreciated. To see the impact that my dad made on so many people – both ones he personally knew in his community, and people who never got a chance to meet him but were still inspired by him nonetheless – has been very comforting and has helped me deal with my grief. I really can’t articulate how special this man was – not just to me and my family, but to anyone who had the honor of knowing him. It is an incredible privilege to be the daughter of such an amazing man. There is no doubt in my mind that he loved all of his children and grandchildren, and he was so proud of all of us.

Love to all of you. We will miss you, Charlie T ❤