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Completed: The Kelly Anorak

14 Feb

Hey guys! Thank you for all your great comments, suggestions, and feedback on my last post! I’m so happy to hear that y’all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it πŸ™‚ With that being said, my stint as a ~travel blogger~ is now officially over (well, until I save up money for my next trip – the verdict is still out on where exactly!) – back to regular sewing posts!

BUT before we get into the project – some class-related stuff!

  • I’ve got two classes at Workroom Social in March that both still have a couple of spots left, if you’ve been on the fence and are looking for a reason to treat yo’self πŸ˜‰ (it IS Valentine’sDay, after all! ;)) The Jeans Making Intensive is March 2-3, and the always-popular Pants Making Intensive is March 4-5! The jeans class primarily focuses on construction and finishing a pair of jeans (we use the Ginger Jeans pattern – which, btw, I’m wearing in these photos haha), while the pants class has a little more fitting involved and sews a classic pair of trousers. Both are going to be super fun and I am so excited to be back in NYC in a couple of weeks! β™₯
  • Speaking of Workroom Social – Camp Workroom Social is coming back, and I’ll be back as an assistant to Amy of Cloth Habit’s Bra Making class! Registration is currently open only to alumni, but will be open to the public soon. I cannot WAIT for another round at camp – last year was freaking amazing (and so, so, so beautiful!) and it will be so fun to reconnect with old friends and make new ones!
  • Finally, speaking of Amy and bras -she’s coming to Nashville to teach a bra making workshop at Craft South! Having worked with her at camp last year, I knew we had to have her at the shop for a workshop – she’s a fantastic teacher and so knowledgeable about bra fit! Amy will be in Nashville September 22-23 to teach her Bra Making Weekend Workshop at Craft South. The class will make Amy’s newest pattern, Harriet, as well as learn basic fitting and finishing methods. Oh, and I’ll be assisting the class πŸ™‚ I know a lot of people have been asking when we’d do a bra workshop in Nashville – so there ya go! You can sign up for the workshop here. It’s gonna be amazing!

Ok, back to sewing!

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Today’s project is actually last month’s project that I am just now getting around to posting – the Kelly Anorak from Closet Case Patterns!

While I am not typically a fan of “vacation preparation sewing” – mainly in the sense that I get really stressed with those sorts of deadlines and thus sewing doesn’t even up being very fun – I did make this jacket specifically for my trip to Egypt. I thought it would be a useful thing to bring with me – a nice light layer to ward off the morning chill in the desert, yet breathable for when the sun got all crazy in the afternoon. I also liked that it had those big, roomy pockets and was long enough to cover my butt. My orange Minoru fills most of these slots, but I’ve worn it to death over the years and it’s starting to look ratty – plus, that poly lining isn’t exactly the most breathable thing. Also, I just really love sewing jackets. Sue me πŸ˜›

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

As I said, the Kelly Anorak is a lightweight and unlined jacket – meant to be worn between seasons, not necessarily your crazy winter coat. I’ve seen some people make it out of waterproof fabric, but in my experience I usually carry an umbrella when it rains anyway (and I also own an actual rain jacket – although I still prefer the umbrella, as I don’t like getting my shoes and pants wet!), so this is good enough for a super light drizzle. The pattern features a zippered front with a snap closure placket, a 3 piece hood (which stays on your head much better than the 2 piece kind – it also doesn’t flatten one’s hair as much), big ol’ gusseted pockets, a drawstring waist, and a sleeve placket so you can roll up the sleeves. I actually saw something real similar in JCrew while I was out holiday shopping one afternoon, so I got the added bonus of being able to try the thing on before making it!

The fabric I used for this jacket is an old favorite that’s shown up in tons of my past makes – solid organic cotton twill from Mood Fabrics. The color I used specifically is Olive, and yes, I realize the color on their website photo is way off and no, I don’t know why that is. If you are picky about color, you will definitely want to order a swatch of this stuff. Anyway, I love this fabric because it is easy to work with, has a nice brilliant color, washes/wears well, and is reasonably priced (at least in my opinion!). And it comes in so many colors! Mood pretty much always carries this fabric, FYI, so even if it’s sold out on the website – either hang tight and wait for it to get restocked (I promise it will) or just call the store and have it shipped from there.

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Most of the little hardware bits and pieces were picked up in the NYC Garment District when I was there in November. I knew I was going to be nitpicky about everything matching just so, so I wanted to check out the goods in person. The drawstring, grommets, cord stoppers, metal tassel ends, and zipper are all from Pacific Trimming (I knowww there are other places in the GD to buy this stuff – and maybe even for cheaper – but I just love Pacific Trimming, esp their zipper room!). The zipper is actually a Riri zipper, cos I wanted that shit to be extra fancy. I think I paid around $20 for just the zipper – so it’s not necessarily cheap at all – but it’s really nice, both in terms of how it looks and how smooth it zips! It was also nice to have it cut to the correct size, and also be able to choose both the finish of the metal teeth and the color of the zipper tape, cos again, I was feeling nitpicky about that shit! πŸ™‚ I knew this jacket was going to be a time commitment to make, and for that reason, I’m ok with spending extra money on nicer materials.

The only notion that I did not buy in NYC was the snaps – I just went to Elizabeth Suzann‘s studio during their lunch break and used their industrial snap setter, ha! That thing is really cool and I kiiind of wish I had one, but honestly I am always looking for an excuse to drop by and chat with my old coworkers so for that reason, I’ll continue mooching off theirs!

Since the jacket is unlined (and, for me, primarily worn wide open), I took extra care to finish all the seams for a neat interior. Most every seam is flat-felled, with the exception of the arm holes (only because I didn’t feel like futzing with that shit. I just serged them). I used two different threads to assemble the jacket – a polyester thread for the seams, and then a cotton thread for all the topstitching. I would have just sewn the entire thing with the poly thread, but the color I had on hand was off enough to where the topstitching didn’t look right – and the only thread I had in a suitable color was cotton. In my experience, cotton thread simply does not hold up as well as polyester thread, which is basically indestructible. Considering all the work that I put into this jacket, I didn’t want my threads to fail! So I just used cotton for topstitching – and used a triple stitch, partially for added durability and also because it results in a more visible stitch.

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

I will be completely honest with y’all – I didn’t exactly enjoy the process of sewing this jacket. A big part of the reason was because I was under a pretty tight deadline to finish it before my trip (even though I promised myself it was ok to take the Minoru if I didn’t finish, and that everything would be fine – I still rushed!), but I also found some of the directions to be a bit confusing. The Closet Case Patterns blog has some tutorials on the trickier steps, but some of the information actually contradicts itself in online tutorial vs pattern instructions. The zipper placket specifically was really head-scratching to me, and I had to walk away a few times. There’s a discrepancy with the seam allowances written in the pattern instructions vs the blog tutorial, which I found really confusing. I believe the version on the blog is the correct one, though, if I recall correctly! Another thing that really threw me off was that my zipper pull was on the opposite side of the tape, than what you see on the blog. Finally, I was not a fan of how wide the finished facings are – they are really really wide (too wide, in my opinion). I ended up turning them under additionally and sewing another line to make them more narrow. At the width they were as drafted, I felt like they would just end up flapping around with wear and showing my ugly white interfacing. Nope, not doing that.

Anyway, minor complaints – and may also just be personal, because all the reviews I read just gush about how clear the instructions are. So it could just be me!

As far as sizing and fit, I made a size 2 – which is my normal size for this pattern company. I actually did make a muslin, so I could double check the fit, length, and drawstring placement. The length and drawstring were perfect, and the fit was pretty good. The only thing I changed was the shape of the arm hole – it was a little too big, which made the entire jacket move along with my arms when I lifted them. I raised the bottom by about 1/2″, as well as added to the back of the arm hole, and then took a bit (maybe 3/8″) off the front of the arm hole as it was pulling. This is a pretty standard adjustment that I make to most patterns that involve sleeves. I think I just have really weird-shaped and/or small armscyes haha who knows.

One thing I wish I could have found a way to change was to make the snap on the pocket functional. It’s just there for show and to hold the flap in place – the pocket doesn’t actually snap shut. I considered adding the other side of the snap, but it would have shown on the inside of the jacket (and since you need to interface it, would not have made the inside look as nice). One idea is to interface a scrap of the twill and sew it to where the snap gets inserted, so all you see is a square of twill on the inside. I may do that in the future. It’s not a dealbreaker not being able to snap the pockets closed, but it sure would be handy.

At any rate, this jacket was TOTALLY worth the effort – I think the finished result looks pretty damn good! There’s definitely something to be said about using nice materials, as they really elevate the garment into something that looks extra nice. But I am also really happy with the craftsmanship that went into it – I’m glad I took the time to do the flat-felled seams, rip out mistakes and fix them (even though we all know that shit can be agonizing haha), and even deal with making a muslin first. All totally worth it in the end. And while I made this for Egypt and our upcoming spring weather, it’s actually been handy for the majority of January & what we’ve experienced so far in February. I realize everyone is getting pummeled by snow right now, but y’all, it’s been 70 degrees in Tennessee this past week. I am starting to wonder if we are going to skip winter entirely! I had plans to make an actual winter coat this year, but I may put it on hold until the next cold season because I’m not really feeling super motivated with the weather as it is currently!

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

I used twill tape to finish the neckline (as suggested in the pattern instructions). If I’d thought about it while I was buying my supplies, I would have tried to find a tape that matched my olive fabric. Oh well! For the label, I serged around all 4 sides of a scrap of twill, then sewed my label (which is from Dutch Label Shop) on top of that before attaching it to the jacket. The hanging loop is a small piece of leather that I cut to shape and sewed on by hand.

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood Fabrics

Whew! Sorry about that photo dump – I guess while I’ve gotten better at editing down and posting less photos of myself, I can’t say the same about detail shots πŸ˜‰ haha.

I leave you with one last photo of me. Sorry, not sorry:

Kelly Anorak in Organic Cotton Twill from Mood FabricsNote: The fabrics used for this project was provided to me by Mood Fabrics, in exchange for my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

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Completed: Static Sweater

11 Jan

This was my last finished knitted project of 2016, and my first *blogged* knitted project for 2017!

Static Sweater

I finished it just in time, too – Tennessee has finally decided that it is indeed winter, and dropped the temperatures to match!

Static Sweater

I haven’t knit as many sweaters this year (or, in 2016) as I did in the past – when I started knitting, I was on a huuuuuge cardigan kick. I knit SO MANY FUCKING CARDIGANS. I still love cardigans, but I rarely wear those OG knits from my first couple of years as a knitter. Most of them were great for my lifestyle at the time – I worked in an office and I needed to cover up my shoulders to make my dresses more appropriate for work. Now that I’m not stuck in a dress code, I rarely wear cardigans in the summer, unless I’m anticipating some crazy A/C abuse (Tennesseans looove their A/C). I have found that I prefer to knit and wear full-on sweaters – when I knit in the round, there’s no purling (woohoo), so it’s faster, and I find them more versatile and easier to wear than cardigans. Again, I don’t live in a climate that really needs a million sweaters – so I focus my knitting attention primarily on socks these days haha. But it’s fun to knit a sweater every once in a while!

Static Sweater

Static Sweater

Static Sweater

I have been loving these marled yarns that seemingly EVERYONE is knitting right now, and I wanted a nice cozy turtleneck to add to my (tiny) sweater collection. Something with minimal shaping – but not overly loose – and long enough to cover my butt (I feel like the older I get, the more my butt gets cold. What gives with that? Do I have a sensitive butt now?). Finding the yarn was really really easy. Finding the pattern was another challenge in itself.

First, the yarn. I was given an opportunity to review some yarn from We Are Knitters, which I totally agreed to do because 1. Yarn is really expensive; and 2. We sell some of these kits at Craft South, so I thought it would be nice to actually see what they were about. Of course, I’m super cheeky so I asked for an entire kit to make my sweater – specifically, I had my eye on the Kide Sweater. I love that loose, slouchy shape, the not-too-tight turtleneck, and I thought it would look great in that Petite Wool spotted black colorway.

Similar to Wool and the Gang kits, the We Are Knitters kit includes everything you need to make and finish the project – in this case, I got the pattern, 6 balls of the Petite Wool (which is basically a bulky yarn), a set of US 11 straight wooden needles, a WAK tag to sew inside my sweater, and a plastic needle to weave in the ends. It came in a recyclable paper bag. The pricing structure is similar to Wool and the Gang, maybe a little bit cheaper. I think the stuff that comes with WATG is a little bit nicer, though – for example, the WATG needle (for weaving in the ends) is metal, and the WAK needle is plastic. The WATG knitting needles are rosewood, and they are suuuper nice. I was not very impressed with the WAK knitting needles – they are also wood (beechwood), but they just feel a bit cheap. Very lightweight and the tips are not smooth. They were the wrong size for my gauge, so I did not use them for this project. I also preferred the WATG yarn over the WAK yarn, but they aren’t exactly the same thing so I don’t know if that’s really a fair comparison.

The WAK Petite Wool yarn is really pretty, but it’s not the easiest to knit with as it is spun very loosely. It’s almost like a thin roving – it’s twisted just enough to get the two colors together, but because it’s not twisted very tightly, it’s prone to pulling apart or getting split with your needle when you knit into it. It’s quite lofty, which makes it a HUGE PAIN IN THE BUTT to unknit, since it really just wants to cling to itself forever. That being said – it feels good in the hands, knits up gorgeously, and is incredibly warm to wear. I have worn this sweater several times – including a 20 degree day in NYC this past weekend – and the cold couldn’t penetrate that barrier. It’s not super itchy to begin with, but I washed it in a Wrapture (which is a no-rinse wool wash with lanolin) and it got even softer. Love love love wearing this yarn.

My real beef with this kit was the pattern itself. The images on the website are really nice, which is what initially drew me in. However… it’s a pretty terrible pattern. It’s definitely very beginner-based, but I don’t think you’d end up with a nice sweater if you followed these instructions. The sweater is essentially knit in two giant pieces that get connected at the side seams. This includes the sleeves. So you start out really small, gradually increase until the piece is torso-sized, and then gradually decrease to the wrist of the second sleeve… then you sew the two pieces together all the way up the side and sleeve seams. I am not crazy about batwing sleeves on a bulky sweater (which is basically what this will end up being), and I feel like something knit out of yarn this heavy needs more structure to keep it from getting weighed down. I also don’t like the way this yarn looks sideways – which is how the stitches will end up, based on the pattern shape. Had I known this, I would have only asked for yarn, not a full kit – but unfortunately you don’t get to see the pattern schematics until it’s in your hands. So I scrapped the pattern and picked a different one, because at the end of the day – I’m the one knitting and wearing this sweater, and I want it to be something I actually truly love.

Static Sweater

Sooo, looking for another pattern ended up taking me WAY too long. It is apparently quite difficult to find a semi-fitted, turtleneck sweater knit out of a bulky yarn that does not have cables or lacework. I started with Caribou Trails, bc it had everything I wanted and I figured I could omit the side cable without any problems – but after downloading, I realized the instructions don’t include any neckline shaping. You basically knit the tube for the turtleneck and just go straight down. My WATG Teen Spirit Sweater is shaped like this, and it’s not the worst, but I don’t want to knit any other sweaters like that. Actual neckline shaping means the front dips a little lower than the back, and it doesn’t push against your collarbone. Caribou Trails got scrapped (bummer that I had to pay for it to learn this, but I’m not going to argue with a knitwear designer over $5, I mean, come on haha) and I resumed my search until I found Eased, which was WAY more up my alley! Good fit, good length, and the turtleneck almost looks like a hoodie without a hood. And it had that neckline shaping I wanted, so, sold πŸ™‚ The pattern I used is the version for bulky yarn, but I may go back and knit the version in the lighter weight yarn as well.

Static Sweater

Static Sweater

The pattern was super easy to follow, so not a lot to report there. I knit and washed a couple of gauge swatches until I settled on size 10 needles, which gave me a lovely feeling knit fabric. After washing, I figured that the back (purl) side looked much nicer than the front (knit) side, so I just knit the sweater as instructed and then turned it inside out after I finished it haha. I love the effect – the sweater looks like old-school TV static πŸ˜‰ As a side note, this Misfits song was stuck in my head pretty much the entire time I was knitting it haha

I knit the size 33 and the only fitting adjustment I made was to add another round of decreases to the sleeve so they’d be more fitted at the wrist. Something went haywire with my row gauge, btw – I calculated it in my gauge swatch, and measured carefully to ensure that the sleeves would be long enough (after measuring some of my other sweaters and deciding that 19″ was a good sleeve length for a sweater like this), but they still ended up too short. I didn’t realize it until after I wore it for a day and moved around a bit. That was pretty easy to fix – I just undid my cast-off, put the stitches back on the needles, and knit another 16 rounds (4″ with my gauge) in rib knit. I need to re-block the sweater as you can see a slight difference between the original rib knit ending and the new rib knit beginning, but I did this right before I left for NYC and I wanted to take the sweater with me. These photos are the original shorter length sleeves, fyi.

The collar is my favorite part, but man, those instructions are weird! You knit in the round, add yarn-over button holes (so far, so normal)… then instead of binding off, you whipstitch all the live stitches to the inside of the collar. I am guessing that the bind-off would make the collar lay weird, or maybe not be as stretchy, so I followed the instructions with a blind trust, but I was definitely a little concerned about just sewing down live stitches. It did turn out nice, though! The only thing I don’t like is how thick the top of the collar is, so I am going to focus on flattening that more when I re-block the sweater. I may also try a steam iron, we’ll see. One last thing – instead of doing a crochet chain drawstring, I just used black twill tape. I think it looks nicer, that is all.

Static Sweater

I do NOT know why the left sleeve looks so much shorter, ignore that! I promise they are the same length HAHA

Static Sweater

Static Sweater

Overall, I do love the yarn and the finished sweater. Not especially impressed with the pattern itself, although I think it’s probably fine for a super beginner who just wants to finish a sweater and not necessarily fuss over fine details. I think it is the same for the supplies that were included in the kit – they aren’t terrible, but they’re not the best quality I’ve used. A beginner who’s working on their first project wouldn’t know the difference, and wouldn’t have a problem with using them. But the yarn itself is fabulous to wear and I definitely recommend that, whether or not you decide to get the kit as well (you can buy yarn in bulk lots of 5 or 10, and it’s a little more discounted than buying the balls individually).

Speaking of balls of yarn, I only used about 4.5 to knit this sweater… so I still have another ball and a half to knit something else with. Probably a hat! If you have a good/plain beanie pattern suggestion (bulky weight yarn, approx 250~ yards), holler!

Static Sweater

On an unrelated note – I just got back from a full-on tourist weekend in NYC and, omg you guys, so amazing. I stayed in the Kimberly Hotel, which is way different from my normal housing – it’s not the cheapest hotel (rates start around $150/night), but it is really well-priced for the area it is in. It’s very central, and an easy 10-15 minute walk to lots of cool things -including the Garment District (YEP!), Central Park, the Natural History Museum – not to mention there are tons of great restaurants just in the surrounding blocks. In addition, there’s a sweet rooftop lounge with really good food and drinks, the rooms are quite nice (I think I might have had a spiritual moment every morning in that WATERFALL SHOWER) and the people who work there are incredibly good at what they do and incredibly intent on not letting you open your own door or hail your own cab πŸ˜‰ Not an experience I’ve ever personally had before, but now I see why people opt for those fancy hotels!

Since this was a fun / non-work trip for me, I did a lot more touristy-type stuff – although I did nip in the Garment District to grab a couple things (really, I got out of there with the smallest bag ever haha). If you haven’t checked out the Tenement Museum, PUT THAT ON YOUR LIST. It’s not really sewing related (I guess the workers were in the garment industry, but that’s about it), but it’s an AMAZING museum. One of my top 10 for sure. Another thing I really enjoyed doing was walking to Bergdorf Goodman and creeping on all the designer clothes. I only had an hour before I had to catch my flight home, but OH MY GOD I could have stayed there all day. I have never ever understood the appeal of designer clothes – but that stuff is so impeccably made, and it’s fascinating to look at. Some of the pieces made me want to cry over how beautiful they were, as cheesy as that sounds haha. And while I have always found designer stuff to be really over-the-top and kind of goofy looking, seeing it in person really makes you appreciate the artistic side of it. I never thought I would say that I love Gucci, but, their 2017 Resort collection is killer. And the Valentino 2017 Resort collection literally brought a tear to my eye when I was oogling over it. I NEED TO FIND THAT TROPICAL SILK ASAP.

Static Sweater

In other news, I’m heading out again this Saturday for my trip to Egypt! I won’t be posting on this blog during that time, so expect some silence. If you want to keep up with me via social media, I will be posting on Instagram (assuming I can get some internet signal over there haha), so you can follow that if you feel so inclined! Otherwise, I’ll see y’all later! β™₯

*Note* The yarn was provided to me by We Are Knitters, in exchange for a post review. Although they also supplied a pattern and needles, I used ones that I purchased on my own. All opinions in this review are 100% mine!

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Completed: Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

3 Jan

Happy 2017, everyone!! I’m going to kick off this year with one of my last makes from 2016 – featuring some uhhh-mazing leopard print silk charmeuse!

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Having spent the last 1-2 years of my sewing working on essential wardrobe basics, my handmade wardrobe is quite practical these days. Lots of pants and jeans, lots of tshirts and button ups, lots of comfortable and stylish casual sundresses. I feel really good about where I’m at when it comes to those needs, and as I mentioned before – right now I am just updating the old/worn out and not really scrambling around to make new stuff anymore. WITH THAT BEING SAID, I ended up with a surprising hole in my wardrobe – fancy dresses! This is somewhat hilarious to me, considering I spent the first several years of my sewing career endlessly making frilly party dresses that I rarely wore (or stopped wearing after I got over the novelty of wearing a party dress to, say, the bar. Hey, if that’s your jam, you keep doing you! Me, I will put on leggings and a giant sweater instead haha). I ended up with a closetful of impractical clothing, and have spent all these years trying to rectify that with the practical. I also did a bunch of purging with what was already hanging around, getting rid of things that no longer fit (or never fit right in the first place) or in colors/styles that I didn’t feel like suited me.

I have done such a great job that once the holiday season hit, I quickly realized that I have nothing to wear. lolwut.

I still have my glorious Marc Jacobs birds dress (which is still my favorite favorite thing EVER), this blue cotton sateen dress via the Sew Bossy challenge, and my sparkly brocade skirt. Both of these have been great to have for festive holiday parties, or the occasional wedding ceremony, or that one fancy date that I get to on on like every 6 months. I am also totally not opposed to wearing the same thing multiple times – having been the sort of person who needed a new dress for every occasion, I would rather now just have a handful of things I really really love that I know I look and feel good in – I felt that it was time to give myself permission to make another fancy dress. Just in time for the holiday season to end, ha! Whatever, I’ll take myself out for a steak date and wear this shit!

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

After some deliberation, I ended up with Simplicity 6266, cos I just can’t get enough of that 70s mock-wrap neckline and those sweet tulip sleeves. Honestly, I wanted to make this version with the long sleeves – but I didn’t have enough fabric to cut everything (which, in restrospect, was probably for the best – I think that sort of style would do better in a solid color. That much leopard print could be overwhelming!) because I’d already cut a little bit off and used it to make a bra. I’ve made this pattern before twice (one and two), and yes, I realize that I basically just made a duplicate of the first version. I totally still have that dress – after a couple rounds of alterations when my weight started changing – and I love it, but the polyester content of the fabric makes it not such a great choice for summer. I’ve always wanted to make another version in a more breathable fabric, so here we are.

My leopard print silk charmeuse is from Mood Fabrics, and while it hung around on the site for months after I bought it, it’s sold out now. I think it was originally Rag and Bone, and it’s been in my stash since 2015 hahaha. It’s a nice weight with a gorgeous drape, and I gave it a cold wash before cutting which helped make the shiny side a little more matte (and now I can wash this dress like any other old thing in my laundry basket, ha!). The shiny side was still a little too shiny for my tastes, so I used the matte side as the right side of my fabric. The added bonus to doing this is that the dress feels REAL nice on the inside now, heh heh heh.

I wanted to try a new way to stabilize the silk for this project – in the past I’ve used Sullivan’s Spray Stabilizer, which works GREAT but it can be $$$. I was tipped off to try using gelatine – yes, basically unflavored Jell-o – and I decided this was the project to test this theory with. You can read the full instructions on how to do this here, but basically – you cook the gelatine in water until it boils, add more water, stir in your fabric and let it sit for an hour to soak everything up, then wring it out and lay it flat to dry. I folded mine in half lengthwise and then used a series of chairs and my drying rack to get it as smooth as possible so it would dry reasonably flat. Once the fabric was dry, it had a much more stiff body – similar to a silk organza before you pre-wash it. To remove the gelatine, you just wash the garment as normal (so, this will only work with something that’s been pre-treated – you can’t use it to sew something you wouldn’t wash, such as a coat lining that’s not removable) and it will soft right back up to how it was originally. It’s still not the easiest thing in the world to sew – I mean, we are talking about silk charmeuse here, y’all, it’s never going to be completely fool-proof – but it was a HELLUVA lot easier to manhandle than it had been before the treatment.

Because of the gelatine treatment, assembling this dress was reasonably easy. I used a brand new, 70/10 sharp needle to sew it, and finished all my seams with a serger and then pressed them open (I know that traditionally you sew silk with French seams – and this is what I usually do – but I was anticipating alterations with this. More on that in a sec). For the hems, I turned them under 1/4″ twice and blind-stitched them by hand. The stiffness of the fabric only moderately affects things, if you’re a fit-as-you-sew kind of person (I am!) – as in, the fit is still accurate, but everything just kind of hangs weird because it’s lacking that drape. My sleeves in particular looked RIDICULOUS, but they are fine now that they are soft again. I left off all the topstitching, except at the waist (only because I felt like the silk needed the topstitching for extra stability), and sewed the ties together into a removable waist tie instead of attached at the side seams. Oh, and I used an invisible zipper instead of a lapped zipper. I added a strip of fusible interfacing to both edges of the dress where the zipper would go, which keeps the area smooth and supported.

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

I did have some snafus with the fit on this dress, which at least I was anticipating. See, my pattern isn’t exactly my size – it’s for a 33″ bust, and I’m closer to 32″. This is why I had to take in the original cheetah version, and I had some fitting tweaks that needed to be made on the polka dot one as well. With both dresses, I didn’t actually record my changes – so I had to start from scratch, again. Awesome. For this dress, I sewed the side seams and shoulder seams at 3/4″, instead of the usual 5/8″. This helped a bit – the dress still isn’t super tight, but I like the drape of charmeuse with a little bit of ease. Interestingly, it was the sleeves that gave me trouble with this dress. First, I sewed them with the wrong side on top – and I didn’t notice until after I had finished the dress (including all the serging) and I was comparing it to the original cheetah version. They look really awful when they are the wrong way, in case you were wondering – and I had to unpick and resew them. Also, the shoulders were strangely wide on this dress – the armscye was the correct depth (thanks to that 3/4″ seam allowance), but the sleeves started past the edge of my shoulder and it was channeling some serious linebacker shit. Of course, I noticed this AFTER I had fixed the sleeves – and I wasn’t about to unpick that shit again! So I added a 1/2″ tuck on top of the shoulder, which only goes about 2″ and then folds into a soft pleat over the bust and down the back. This was enough to pull in the sleeve cap so it actually started where a sleeve cap was supposed to start – and also made the bodice fit a little better, too. It’s not the most elegant of solutions – it’s a total hack job, tbh – but it worked!

I also tacked down the center front invisibly, because the dress wanted to gape open (probably cos my boobs don’t quite fill it out lolz).

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

As a side note, I am trying a new spot to take photos. I had a few people tell me that my other location was too distracting, and, well, it totally is haha πŸ™‚ I don’t know why I never tried this wall – it’s pretty empty and gets ok light. What’s weird is how different it looks with me standing there vs the dress form (I took all these photos in one session). The background is boring as hell but it’s not like anyone is here for my stunning photography. Also I’m not really sure how to get rid of that giant shadow behind me.

And because I’ve gotten some comments on it recently – the thing I’m holding is my camera remote (my camera is old and the only remote that works with it has a giant antennae), not a screwdriver hahaha.

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Anyway, thanks for all of your great comments and insights on my last post. I had a great time ringing in 2017 and I look forward to what this year has to offer!

Note: The leopard print silk charmeuse was purchased with my allowance from Mood Fabrics, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Completed: The Archer Popover

29 Dec

Oooh, one last make for this year!!!

Gingham Archer Popover

I made this about 4 months ago, but it was a sample for Craft South so I’m just now getting possession of it to actually wear! I love making samples for the shop – you get access to the pattern + materials for free, and are allowed to sew during downtime at the store – but the trade-off is that you have to leave it at the shop for at least a couple of months. Which makes sense – it is a sample, after all, haha. But it can be frustrating when you have to wait to be able to wear it!

For this top, I used my personal Archer pattern (which we do sell in the shop, but I didn’t want to rip one open when I had a perfectly usable pattern at home), and I downloaded the popover variation. The fabric is Cotton + Steel Checkers, in the 1″ black and white. It’s a nice woven cotton that feels similar to a yarn-dyed cotton – it hangs (and feels!) nicer than a quilting cotton, but it does have a dense weave that still makes it have quite a bit of body. The checkers are woven, not printed, so the design is the same on both sides of the fabric. I did take this fabric home and prewash it before actually sewing the sample – I wanted to be sure it got its shrinking out of the way before I cut it up. Actually, I also cut it while I was at home, and fused my interfacing as well. Matching plaids takes some focus and concentration, and there are a lot of pieces to contend with on this pattern. I didn’t want to have to try to juggle cutting/matching while also dealing with customers as they come in and out of the shop, so it made more sense to tackle that part of the project at home away from distractions. But all the actual sewing did happen while I was at the shop!

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

I’ve made lots of Archers in my time, so there’s not much to say that I haven’t already said. I made a size 0, and followed the instructions as they are written. This particular version is a bit different in that the button placket doesn’t extend all the way to the bottom of the shirt – hence, that it’s a popover, not a button up. The variation pack includes a new shirt front, a new front placket, and a different sleeve placket, as well as the instructions you need to actually sew them in. It’s been a few months since I made this top, so my memory is a little fuzzy, but I recall the instructions being easy enough to follow. I do remember that I did not like the instructions or pattern pieces for the tower placket on the sleeve – I found that whole process unnecessarily fiddly, although it did turn out nice in the end. Personally, my favorite way to sew a tower placket is by way of the Colette Negroni, it is very straightforward and simple, with a really nice finished result.

Other changes I made to the pattern was to include tabs for rolling up the sleeves (I swiped the pattern piece from my copy of B5526) and different shaped pockets (pattern piece swiped from the Negroni). I cut the gingham on the straight grain as directed, except for the outer yoke and pockets, which were cut on the bias. The inner yoke is also cut on the straight grain, to give the bias side some support. I didn’t get any photos of me with the sleeves rolled down, but they are full-length.

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

There were 2 reasons why I wanted to make this particular shirt – one, I really liked that Cotton + Steel fabric and I wanted to sew something out of it; and two, I wanted an excuse to bust out some fancy machine embroidery. I love embroidered western shirts, hence the inspiration for this one. Because I work in a sewing machine shop and we have several models out on the floor to play around with, I went straight for the Rolls-Royce of the bunch and did all my embroidery (and sewing, for that matter!) on the Horizon Memory Craft 15000. Y’all, we sell this sewing machine for a little over $10,000 (yes, all those zeros are supposed to be there). It comes with a fucking IPAD. It’s a super badass machine that I’m going to confidently say will never ever be in my personal budget to own, but you bet your ass that I’m gonna take advantage of the fact that I can sew something on it right now. Ha! Honestly, it was actually a good thing for me to sew this project on that machine, because it gave me lots of time to play around with it, learn how to use the embroidery features, and get comfortable sewing on it. I can’t imagine anyone would ever want to buy a sewing machine from someone who doesn’t even know how to use the thing themselves, so it was beneficial for me to learn all that in shop downtime. Also, I have a new shirt from it. Yay!

Anyway, that particular sewing machine comes with a bunch of pre-loaded embroidery designs, plus you can download (or create) more designs and upload them straight to the machine (either via USB, or with that aforementioned iPad haha). I get too overwhelmed when presented with way too many options, so I kept it simple and stuck with what was available on the machine. This little floral design fit right in the back yoke, although the suggested colors were a little weird (those were easy enough to change, obviously). I made a few practice pieces to get a feel for the finished size and also how the embroidery goes on, then I embroidered the actual garment piece. To do this, I first cut my piece and fused a piece of interfacing to the back to stabilize it (this isn’t 100% necessary in all cases, but since that piece is on the bias, it was needed). I used my sample piece to determine where the machine would start the embroidery, and centered my pattern piece in the hoop with tear-away stabilizer. Then you just turn the machine one and let it go to town! I can’t remember how long the embroidery took – we turned the speed down and let it roll on in the background while we worked – but it wasn’t super long. The machine will stop when its time to change the colors, and thankfully its also smart enough to pick up where it left off if you run out of thread or have to stop the embroidery for any reason.

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

Other than that, sewing was pretty uneventful. I finished the rest of the shirt on the same machine, which let me play around with all the available feet and additional sewing settings. It was pretty fun! All the seams are flat-felled, so it looks just as good on the inside as it does on the outside.

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

I think the shirt turned out really nice, however, I’m not super crazy about how much it stands away from my body. I normally like my Archers in a stiffer fabric, but all the others I’ve made button all the way to the bottom, so I can leave them open and wear them sort of like a little jacket.This particular style might do better in a drapier fabric. With that being said, I am hoping the fabric will soften with more washing, as cotton tends to do. We will see! In the meantime, it gave me an excuse to sew something on a machine that costs more than the first 3 cars I owned combined, so that’s saying something haha.

Gingham Archer Popover

Completed: The Fraser Sweatshirt

26 Dec

Gonna keep this one short and sweet today!

Fraser Sweatshirt

Also, in case you were wondering – yes, I took these immediately after the photos from my last post. Just pulled the sweatshirt on over what I was already wearing! Haha!

This is the Fraser Sweatshirt from Sewaholic Patterns. I have actually made this top before – I used a beautiful marled French Terry from Metro Textiles and it’s soooo soft and cozy – but this is my first post about it. I don’t normally dedicate a post strictly to something as plain at a knit top, as I personally find it a little boring – but I do think this one deserves its own very short post. So there you go. I finished this way back in August and have worn it loads since.

Anyway, Fraser! I think this pattern got a bit overlooked – I certainly overlooked it at first. It’s pretty similar to the Renfrew Top – albeit with a higher neckline, a little more ease (to allow for sewing out of a bulkier fabric) and some style variations. I didn’t care much for the style variations, personally – not a fan of that western contrast yoke, and really falling out of love with twee collars on everything. I liked the plain version, and like I said – I made it up and really enjoy wearing it – but I don’t know if the plain version alone really justifies buying the pattern if you already have the Renfrew (FWIW, Tasia gifted me these patterns, although she did made it very clear she was not expecting a review post in exchange). With that being said, I loved Amanda’s collared version the second I saw it, and filed it away for future consideration.

For fabric, I used a grey sweatshirt knit that has been in my stash for a few years. I’m not 100% on where it’s from, but my best guess is that I bought it at Paron’s in NYC. It’s a little lighter and stretchier than a true sweatshirt fleece – it almost feels like scuba with fleece on one side.

Fraser Sweatshirt

Fraser Sweatshirt

I wanted my collar to be more subtle than straight-up color-blocking, so I simply used the wrong side of my main fabric. In theory, it seemed like a really cool idea – the wrong side is fuzzy, so there’d be some unexpected texture there. In practice, it looks very much the same as the right side, unless you’re actually touching it. So my inset collar is even less of a contrast than I was anticipating, although I don’t think this is a bad thing. I actually do like the way it turned out!

Anyway, I topstitched around the collar with a straight stitch to really bring out the seam lines and help everything lay flat. I love the effect, especially how it looks with another collared shirt peeking out from underneath, inception-style πŸ˜›

Fraser Sweatshirt

Fraser Sweatshirt

Pattern-wise, not much to report. I made a size 0, which is my usual Sewaholic size. I assembled the shirt with a serger, although I used my sewing machine to sew the collar in first so I could easily unpick if I messed something up (I just went over the seams again with my serger once I knew everything was good). Actually, the serged seams on the collar look REALLY cool and I almost let that be the right side… maybe for the next top. Who knows!

I did have to do a little tracing to get those long sleeves. The pattern comes with 3 sleeve options, but the long sleeves have that yoke on top of them. The yoke-less sleeves are 3/4 and short, both of which I feel are useless for a sweatshirt. I simply combined the top of the 3/4 sleeve with the bottom of the yoked sleeve, to make a plain long sleeve. Not difficult to do at all.

Interestingly, I found the hips to be too wide in the first version I made of this pattern – there were super A-line on me (not surprising, considering I’m not a pear shape and this pattern is drafted for someone who is) and I had to take in the sides quite a bit to make them more straight – but on this current version, they are fine. I am guessing my fabric choice had something to do with this, because I didn’t alter the actual pattern pieces. This knit is way softer and stretchier than the French terry I used for my first version, which makes the sides hang better.

Fraser Sweatshirt

Anyway, I don’t have anything else to say about this top sooooo I guess that’s it!

Completed: The Freedom Backpack

12 Dec

I know.

I already made a travel backpack. And in all honesty – a pretty nice one at that. It has been my little tag-along for every adventure I’ve gone on since finishing it, and I get a lot of compliments on it from strangers (and a lot of boggled minds when I reply with, “Thanks, I made it!” GREAT feeling, btw! ;)).

I do love that backpack, but it’s definitely more suited to be a day backpack – it’s very small, so great for walking around and exploring a new city, not as great for a long plane ride. It’s also very light, so I’m a bit nervous to stuff it too full. Which honestly isn’t too much of a problem, since it’s too small to stuff really full in the first place πŸ˜›

So, I made another one. Two backpacks in one year! I am on a roll here, you guys.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

I actually had no intention of making another backpack. Like I said – I like the little rainbow travel one, and I’ll continue to use it. I have been planning for my trip to Egypt in January (OMG IT’S SO SOON OMG), and thinking about what I might use as my carry-on for the flight. I had been lurking around at the backpacks in the stores, but not actually planning on buying anything. About this time, I got an email from niizo, asking if I wanted to try and review something from the shop. My immediately first thought was, “Naw.” Until I actually looked at the stuff that was available. The patterns available are really nice – they looked a lot like the stuff I was seeing in stores. And the fact that they also had kits that included everything needed to make the pattern – pretty tempting (sourcing all those materials can be a PITA, especially if you have to order half the shit online). Further, Amy mentioned in her original email that her instructions were super user-friendly and the patterns were professionally designed. I thought about it for a couple of days and decided to go for it.

It was hard to decide which kit to receive (like I said, I had backpacks on the mind but duuuude I love that Sunny Day bag, too!), but eventually, practicality won out and I chose the Freedom Backpack Kit in the Iron Gray colorway. My finished backpack totally looks like the products photos, but, whatever, I like the grey haha.

Once I chose my kit, I received the package within about a week. I don’t know the specific day as I was in NYC while it was delivered, but it was definitely less than 10 days. I wish I’d thought to take a picture of the packaging, because it was all packaged together quite beautifully – but I eagerly ripped that shit open the second I laid eyes on it AS I AM WONT TO DO, so, sorry. The fabrics were all neatly folded and labeled, and all the accessories were split between a couple plastic bags. If you look at the listing, you can see what the kit includes – but it’s literally everything you need, except the thread & needles (and sewing machine, obviously). They even include waxed thread & large needles for sewing on the leather pieces. The zippers already have the big leather pulls attached (with the stoppers cut off – since you’re inserting the zippers into something, you don’t need the stoppers. They are tagged in place to the zipper tape, so you accidentally yank the pull off and ruin the zipper. A very thoughtful touch!) and all the little leather pieces have the edges finished and the stitch holes pre-cut. It’s a really nice kit – and pretty close in cost to what I paid for my other backpack, except that I didn’t have to source all these materials individually!

The pattern is a PDF that you print off and tape about half the pieces together (they are individual, so you don’t end up with a giant sheet of paper that you then have to cut down). There isn’t a test print measurement square, however, the dimensions of the piece are printed on every pattern piece, so you can double check to make sure you printed the correct size. I scaled at 100% and everything was perfect. I spent the first evening taping and cutting – put on some good music, spread my fabric out on a single layer, and traced around the pieces with a big piece of wax so I could make sure they all fit on the yardage provided. I followed the cutting layout in the pattern and ended up with very little waste, and a very satisfying pile of cut pieces.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

Niizo Freedom Backpack

Sewing this backpack was INCREDIBLY fun. I do not consider myself a bag maker – like, I’m not super skilled at it, and also I kind of hate sewing bags (which is why I carry a purse that I actually paid money for, instead of making one. Also my wallet. Also all my tote bags. Sewing bags is borrrrrring). But I honestly, truly enjoyed nearly every moment of putting this thing together (I am sorry in advance because this review is about to get super gushy hahaha). The instructions are really good – they include photographs (not drawings) and are very simple and direct. The pieces all fit together perfectly. I had no problem deciphering or following any of the steps, and I was quite impressed with how nice the bag turned out. I had so much fun sewing this thing, it ended up being the sort of project that kept me up way past my bedtime (and also skipping dinner) because I was enjoying myself too much to stop. Having sewn another backpack just a few months prior, the finishing of this pack is much much much more professional than the other pattern. Not that the other pattern is bad – this one just definitely has better instructions and a nicer finish.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

It’s a little difficult to see in the product photos, but there are a lot of nice touches that really elevate this project. The plaid lining (which is waterproof cotton – all the fabric in this bag, including the lining, is waterproof) is under the hood flap and also at the underside of the straps. There are two zippered compartments under the hood flap – the back compartment is the size of the bag, with one large pocket (sized for a laptop) and two smaller pockets. The front compartment is as wide as the backpack, but only about half as deep, with some smaller pockets inside.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

The bottom half of the front compartment is also a pocket, with a little sneaky side zipper. I imagine this would be a great place to hold stuff like a change of clothes (for international flights) so you they are handy but also out of the way when you’re digging through the rest of your shit.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

The straps are padded with some plastic-y foam stuff (I dunno what it is, but it’s way more comfy than quilt batting haha), and then the nylon webbing is sewn directly on top.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

The straps are then attached to the bottom of the backpack with this little triangle tab thing, which is a nice feature.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

The back is padded with the same foam stuff, and topstitched in place. You can also see the piece that covers where the straps attach at the top.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

Niizo Freedom Backpack

I love the little leather details. I sewed them on with the included thread & needles, using a double needle stitch – which the pattern includes a link to video instructions that you can follow along.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

Finally, there are two side pockets that can hold your water bottle.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

This is the inside of the back compartment – one side of pockets.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

Here is the other side of the same compartment. Not sure if my backpack is drunk or just leering in this photo.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

What’s awesome about this backpack is there is NO INTERFACING involved! It gets its shape from the heft of the outer fabric (which is a waterproof cotton canvas) and that back padding. I didn’t put anything in this backpack for these photos – it’s empty and standing up on it’s own just fine. The downside to this is that it was quite difficult to manipulate under the sewing machine once I got to those very final steps of putting it all together – it’s just really bulky, and hard to push down flat. I managed, just by going slow and being careful. Don’t try to rush that part! It was also a big beast to turn the thing right side out once I was finished (the bottom lining is left open and slip-stitched shut), but obviously I was able to get that eventually… it just took a bit of patience.

If you’re interested in trying this backpack – or anything similar to this – here are my tips:
– An 80/12 needle works fine, although a heavier one might be more ideal (I only had 80/12’s on hand). I only broke one needle during the making of this, and it was at the very end.
– Some of the layers get too bulky to pin together, so I bought a pack of Wonder Clips and that was immensely helpful. They’re not as flat as pins, so you’ll have to pull them off earlier than usual to get it under the machine, but it’s worth it to be able to at least hold the layers together temporarily.
– The cotton fabrics press, but that waterproof nylon lining does not. For the tops of the pockets, I marked a 3/8″ line with chalk as a guide for my first fold, and then just doubled it for the second fold.
– The pattern includes measurements in both centimeters and inches – I found it waaaay easier to just follow the cm measurements.
– The seam allowances are included in the pattern, and they are quite small. Depending on what part you’re sewing, they range from 3/8″ to a little under 1/4″. For those teensy seam allowances – especially when I got to putting the entire thing together, in all of it’s bulky glory – the 1/4″ foot on my sewing machine was a LIFESAVER. I just moved the needle closer to the edge blade, to make the seam allowance less than 1/4″.
– Some of the backpack instructions might seem kind of weird… just blindly follow them, it’ll all make sense eventually.

Niizo Freedom Backpack

Overall, I have nothing but positive things to say about the backpack – both the experience putting it together, and the finished product. I was going through a little bit of a sewing slump, and this definitely revived my mojo! It was really entertaining to sew something that wasn’t garment related. I can’t wait to take this thing out and use it for my upcoming trip! It certainly feels much sturdier than my mini travel backpack, and I think it looks really professional.

As I mentioned, I did receive this backpack kit from niizo in exchange for a review post. I know this review is pretttty gushy, but I am honestly that excited about it (don’t worry, I’ve gushed about it to everyone I know irl as well haha). 10/10, would absolutely make another pattern from this shop again.
One last thing – niizo is running a winter sale through next Monday, here are the details on that:

Grateful Winter Sale on niizo Etsy shop
12/12 – 12/18 Each day we’ll release a surprise coupon code at 0:00(GMT-5)
++++ How to Get the Coupon ++++
Follow @niizocraft on instagram.
Watch the short clip to find the out the coupon code in the video!!
Each coupon code lasts for only 24hrs.
If you miss it, it’s okay, tomorrow is a new day.

Now, who’s got a hankering to make a backpack? πŸ˜‰