Tag Archives: completed

Completed: Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

13 Feb

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

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

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

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

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

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

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

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

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

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

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

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

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

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

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

Charm Patterns Rita Blouse

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

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Completed: Papercut Patterns Palisade Pants

31 Jan

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

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

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

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

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

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

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

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

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

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

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

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

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

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

Palisade Pants made with Mood Fabrics

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

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

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

Completed: The Quart Coat, in Alexander McQueen Fabric

14 Dec

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

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

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

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

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

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

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

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

Ok, back to my coat!

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

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

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

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

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

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

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

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

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

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

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

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

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

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

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

Quart Coat made with Alexander McQueen fabric

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

and a cheese plate <3

Have a great day, everyone!

Completed: Pinnacle Sweatshirt

11 Dec

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

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

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

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

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

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

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

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

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

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

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

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

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

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

Pinnacle Sweatshirt made with Mood Fabrics

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

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

Completed: Niizo Be Strong Backpack

30 Nov

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

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

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

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

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

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

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

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

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

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

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

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

Niizo Be Strong Backpack

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

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

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

Niizo Fortune Wallet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

☞ https://lladybird.com/

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

☞ http://bymyhand.net/

Completed: Professor Meow Sweater

31 Oct

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

Professor Meow sweater

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

Professor Meow sweater

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

Professor Meow sweater

Professor Meow sweater

Professor Meow sweater

Professor Meow sweater

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

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

Professor Meow sweater<

Professor Meow sweater

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

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

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

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

Completed: Denim CentaurĂ©e Dress

25 Oct

Good morning, everyone! I am writing this from my local airport lounge, waiting for my flight this morning to San Francisco! Figured I’d take advantage of the downtime (and free WiFi!) and see if I could throw together a little post! I feel like a big part of the reason why I stopped posting as much was because there is so much EFFORT that goes into it – I have this weird need for them to be long and therefore “worth it,” (and a long post takes a really long time to write!) but really, short posts are better than no posts… right? I don’t want to let my blog die!

Another reason why I post less is because I really seem to have hit a hard rut with photos. I just really hate taking them, I feel like they always look shitty and I honestly don’t know how to improve them (one would think that standing in the same spot where I take my dressform photos would work, but nope, sadly not the case). I snapped these very quickly using the self-timer on my phone, right before I took a walk down the block to my local cookie shop (oh yeah). The lighting isn’t great and I have my shades on, but… whatever. It’ll do!

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Anyway – the dress! I made this little denim sundress a few months ago, one last dress hurrah for summer. The pattern is the Deer & Doe CentaurĂ©e dress, which I loved when was first released – it’s a great little basic sundress with some fun details that make it a little more interesting. The bodice shaping is created with interesting seamlines that form a star (y’all know how I feel about a good star), and the edges are finished with a self bias binding that turns into double straps (a super cute detail IMHO but definitely requires no bra or a strapless bra to get the full effect – fwiw, I am bra-less in these photos). The skirt is a simple gathered skirt – no pockets, but I was able to easily add some simple patch pockets.

I cut a size 36 at the bust, grading out to a 38 at the waist and hip. No other alterations were necessary, which is good because I totally threw caution to the wind and make this up without first sewing a muslin o_O haha! Like I mentioned, I did add patch pockets – simple squares (I think I took the pattern piece off my Ariana Dress but they can easily be drafted if you don’t have a pattern to steal from), to bring a little more interest down to an otherwise plain skirt and to also incorporate more topstitching. Everything else about this dress is exactly as the pattern intended!

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

My fabric is a lightweight denim from Mood Fabrics. I found this in the store while I was in NYC – I was actually looking for bottomweight to make a pair of jeans with, but this was too good to pass up. It’s a fine, lightweight Japanese denim that is very narrow (like less than 45″). This denim on the Mood Fabrics website appears to be very similar, although it’s a little wider. I originally purchased this with the intention of making a shirtdress – I specifically had a Colette Hawthorn dress in mind, to replace my beloved denim Hawthorn that no longer fits – but decided to try something a little different than my norm SINCE I MAKE SO MANY DAMN SHIRTS.

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Sewing this fabric was super easy, as most denims are! I used two sewing machines to construct this – one threaded with regular polyester thread, and the second threaded with topstitching thread (you can totally do this one with machine if you don’t mind re-threading over and over!). I chose to highlight all those interesting seamlines with gold topstitching thread, which makes it look more like a pair of jeans, just reincarnated as a dress. All seams are finished with my serger (the multitude of intersecting seamlines on the bodice + the gathered skirt would have made it difficult to flat fell, plus, I wanted the option to be able to let out or take in areas since, again, I did not make a mock-up), and I used self-binding to finish the edges of the bodice as instructed by the pattern.

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

The dress closes with an invisible zipper on the side seam. Here’s a fun fact – the only zipper I had in my stash was off-white, and I didn’t feel like going to the shop to grab another one in the right color (another fun fact – I live 3 blocks from one fabric store, and less than a mile from a much bigger one so I absolutely have no valid excuse, #teamlazy)
 so there is a off-white invisible zipper in this dress. You’d never guess it unless you see the zipper pull, which is located under my armpit, and I take a lot of pride in this. Not to toot my own horn, but hell yea my invisible zipper game is strong. You can’t even see that shit.

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

The skirt is finished with a wide hem – I wanted mine shorter than the pattern is drafted for, and I like the way the wide hem looks with the topstitching + pockets. Plus, it will be easy to let the hem out if I decide I want a longer skirt in the future (whether or not that will actually ever happen is up for debate, but at least I have options now!).

As a side note, the patch pockets on this dress are perfectly sized to hold a Christie Cookie
 speaking from experience here. And! After I finished taking this photos and took my walk, I ran into the sweetest little cat:

neighborhood cat

That’s all for this make! Admittedly, we are a little late in the season now for a sundress (Tennessee appears to have completely skipped fall and jumped straight into early winter
 wah!), but if I was a cooler person I could totally rock this with a white t-shirt underneath. Alas, my inner Cher Horowitz definitely won’t be making an appearance, but I do think this dress would look cool with a cropped sweater over it (like my Chuck!). So, sundress or not, this can definitely be a transitional garment!

Deer & Doe Centaurée dress made with denim from Mood Fabrics

Anyway, I’m out! Berkeley, I will see you soon! For those of y’all in the area – Stone Mountain & Daughter Fabrics is hosting a meet-up tonight at 5:30PM. Full details are on my IG 🙂

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