Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Make-It-Up-As-I-Go Coat

Immediately after I made my wool jersey poncho, I started dreaming about a warmer one made in plaid wool.  This rust and teal 100% wool coating at FabricMart (sold out now) caught my eye, and I visited its web page every day until it finally went on sale.  I then bought 1.5 yards, having sketched out my poncho based on the last one that I made.

After it arrived, though, my plans changed.  I spent a lot of time draping it over myself, pinning here and there and redraping.   I didn't have enough yardage to make a full coat (even though Fabric Mart had actually sent me about 10 extra inches).   But I no longer wanted just a poncho.  So I pinned and draped a bit more, and then started cutting.  Essentially, I made this garment up as I went along.

I started by cutting my yardage in half crosswise.  Then I sewed the pieces back together where I had cut them, leaving an opening for my head.  Originally, I was going to sew up the sides to make sleeves, but I decided the plaid, which was no longer going to be on the bias as I had originally planned, needed to be broken up.  So I cut it down the front middle and made a button placket.  I put a dart in the back to make it fit my neck better.  Then I sewed up from the hem to make a side seam, pivoting toward the sides and sewing to the end to make sleeves.  

When I first tried it on, it was still a rectangle, and the sides flopped down in points.  That wasn't the look I was going for, so I decided to fold up the corners.

I cut the front piece where I had folded it, and then folded the back piece over to the front.  I sewed them down to create pockets.  The pockets aren't the most functional because they're placed in such a way that it's difficult to access them without reading across with the other hand.  But they are pockets and they're deep, so I can put keys and phone in them without worrying about losing them.

By the time I had done all that, our 50s and 60s had dropped into 40s, and I decided I needed this to be a warmer garment.  I found a large piece of bright red fleece in my stash to use as a lining.  I would have chosen a gray lining for this coat, but #stashbusting, so I went with the red.  Even worn open, the coat doesn't flop to the right side, so no one is ever going to see it.

Things were looking good at this point, but I wanted the sleeves a little longer.  I didn't have any more fabric, having used all but those triangle corners and the tiny bit I shaved off the front neckline. I found some heavy apparel flannel in my stash and made cuffs.  And I love them!  

For the placket, I went with the dark side of some 1" coconut shell buttons from the stash.  I didn't hem because I didn't want to lose any length.  

This coat isn't perfect by any means.  I didn't line it properly, so the fabric hangs a little funny.  And the sleeves are not fully lined due to fabric shortage.  But I am really happy with the way it looks and it is already my go-to jacket until we reach down-parka temperatures.  It did make me realize that I would like to make a proper coat sometime.  I love the collar on the Closet Case Files Clare Coat and want to try making it sometime in the future.

 Thanks for reading, and see you next time!


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Bonn 5: The Make It Work Shirt

Surprise, I made another Bonn.  I'm not sorry.  I'm going to make more.  You'll see another before long, I'm sure.  This one, though, is made out of the prettiest, softest flannel, and it's in a tunic length for extra coziness.

Funny story about the fabric.  The temperature briefly dipped into the 40s a few weeks ago, and I felt miserably cold.  I know, mid-40s isn't really that cold, but I am a naturally cold person, plus I'm a bit anemic, and that particular week, 40s may as well have been 10s.  One night after my husband came home, I couldn't take it anymore.  I told him I had to go buy flannel ASAP and I took off to Joann's at 8 p.m.  I haven't bought apparel flannel there before, and my expectations were quite low, so I was really excited to find a bolt of this stuff.  I can't find it on the web site, but it was one of only two 55" flannels on the shelf; most of the other apparel flannels are 41"-ish wide.  Plus it was the same price as the narrower flannels, and of course it was on sale.  I came home and washed and dried it three times, and was astounded when it came out of the wash pill-free.  It didn't even shrink that much.  So, I'm sorry I can't find it online, but if you see it in store you can buy with confidence.

I spent about an hour cutting my fabric, including lengthening the overall length by about 6" and narrowing the sleeve from the wrist to the elbow after comparing it to my Gallery Tunic pattern sleeve.  I thought I was careful in my cutting, and of course, I've made this shirt four times before with great results.  But somehow, my darts ended up way too low.  I have no idea what happened - I must not have had the fabric completely smoothed out while cutting, but I wasn't any hastier than I normally am. When I tried on the shirt before sewing on my pockets, I was very bummed.  The too-low darts really made a huge difference in the fit and it just wasn't the pattern I loved anymore.

However, I needed this flannel coziness in my wardrobe ASAP, so I just kept on trucking.  I had planned to make pockets anyway, and so I decided to make them extra huge to hide my darts.  I also placed them strategically to mitigate the poor-fit wrinkles as much as possible.

My cutting error wasn't limited to the dart.  Somehow this shirt also just ended up way too big.  Part of it was the improper dart placement, and part of it could be the way this thicker flannel behaves, but there was also just a lot of excess fabric.  I also think that I made my initial full bicep adjustment too large; I will need to remedy that before I make Bonn #6.

So on this shirt, I ended up taking it in about an inch, starting about 1.5" below the bust dart all the way up through the sleeve, ending slightly above my elbow crease.  The sleeves in this shirt are set in, so the adjustment was a bit sloppy as I didn't do it the "right way" by unpicking the sleeve; I just sewed straight over the seam.

I guess we can call this a "Make It Work" shirt.  The bad dart makes it feel a little sloppy, but it is so comfortable that I've worn it a bunch since it came off the machine.

As an aside, I'd like to mention that we lived in Moscow, Russia, not too long ago, and I was not nearly as wimpy about cold weather then, as I am now.  I think that I just used up all my cold tolerance during those two years when I forced myself to take the then-baby girls for walks in their stroller every day as long as the temperature was above 14F.  And now I'm done.

Thanks for reading, stay warm, and I'll see you next time.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Long Blackwood

My husband and I went to New York City last month, alone, to celebrate our anniversary.  One of the highlights was, of course, a trip to Mood Fabrics.  I went in with a list, which helped keep my shopping focused.  But even sticking to two sections of the store (wool knits and cotton shirtings), we managed to spend two hours there, and I was quite overwhelmed.

One item on my list was a sweater knit in a neutral color to make a long Blackwood cardigan.  I found an olive green that was almost exactly what I was looking for, but my husband talked me into buying this wool jersey instead.  He says I wear too much gray and black and apparently the green I had chosen was too close to those shades.

The fabric is a very cozy, nice quality knit.  I can't figure out what color it is; in the store it looked like a magenta-ish purple, but since bringing it home I feel like it might be more of a dusty wine.  Doesn't really matter; it plays the neutral role well, and I've yet to find an item in my closet with which it doesn't pair nicely.

I've previously made two Blackwoods (one unblogged, but you can see a photo on this Me-Made May roundup), but both were the shorter view A with no pockets.  This time I did view B with the pockets.  I attached the pockets to the cardigan using Wash-A-Way Wonder Tape instead of pinning, which has the added bonus of stabilizing the fabric to avoid wavy seams.

Like the last two time I sewed this, I sewed a medium at the top.  Where last time I graded to an XL at the bust and used the XL sleeve, this time I graded out about 1/2" beyond the XL (so maybe an XXL, I'm not sure) at the bottom of the armscye and kept that width all the way down.  I used the size L front band to compensate for the shortened distance between bust and shoulder, and it fit my modified pattern perfectly.  I also widened the sleeves 1/2" on each side , tapering to nothing roughly at the elbow (where there was already a good amount of room), because I wanted to be able to layer the cardigan over a long-sleeved shirt. This provides enough room for my knit tees, but is still a little tight over my woven button-down shirts.

Oh, I also sewed the sleeves the length dictated by the pattern.  Last time I thought they were too long, so I shortened them.  For this warmer version, I wanted cozier sleeves.  As drafted, the sleeves dip about 1.5" into my palm, and I think that's the perfect length.  The only think I think I'd change for next time is to make the pockets about 1" wider.  I can easily fit my phone and keys in them, but I think they would be cozier for hands if they were a little bigger, plus I think it would look cool.

And there will definitely be a next time.  Even with the pocket stabilization, this pattern doesn't take long to cut out and, once cut, sews up very quickly.  And I clearly need another long version, as I've been wearing it several times a week since I made it.

As always, thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ponchos for fall

Last week I had an hour to myself, as well as a hankering to use up a 2-yard cut of wool jersey I found at the thrift store last year (for $3.50!).  So I made this.

The jersey was the perfect warm, mid-weight, stable fabric for the button-up, drape-neck, fall poncho of my dreams.  I draped it over myself, pinned it, re-pinned and re-draped, and came up with my preferred proportions.  Basically my fabric was a 70" wide pentagon that was 33" long in the middle and 26" long at the sides.  I hemmed the top with interfacing, folded my fabric in half with the 26" sides aligned, and then sewed up all but 12" of the top.  

I sewed the buttons through both layers of fabric rather than making buttonholes.   The bottom is left raw - this jersey won't ravel and I dig the sharp-edged look.  I used two different kinds of buttons because I was working from stash and didn't have enough of any of the ones I liked.  I toyed with alternating them, but in the end I just decided to group them together.  I really like how it looks, and since the buttons are just sewn on, I can replace them later if I want to without worrying about matching sizes.

Immediately after I finished it, the temperature dropped, and I've been wearing it pretty much non-stop ever since.  And as soon as she saw my poncho, my sweet little Z asked if I could make her one. As it happened, I had just enough fabric left over to make that happen.  She's been wearing it proudly ever since.

 I think she looks ridiculously cute in it, though I have to remind her to take it off before eating or (shudder) going to the bathroom.

So there you have it, Mommy-and-me wool ponchos. Keep scrolling for directions to make your own.  And as always, thanks for reading and see you next time! 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Gallery hack

I made another Gallery Tunic.  You'll be forgiven for thinking that it doesn't exactly look like a Gallery Tunic.  But I didn't actually set out to hack this pattern.  I prepped my fabric (via FabricMart, is originally from J.Crew and was described as a "cotton flannel voile") and started cutting with the full intention of making the pattern as drafted.  As I was cutting, though, ideas kept coming to me.  "I haven't made a shirt with a yoke for myself in awhile.  It really wouldn't be difficult to add a back yoke ..."  Then "I think a ruffly collar would be cool in this fabric."  Finally, "Oops, I accidentally cut my front in two pieces instead of on the fold ... guess I'll just go with it."

So, yeah, it doesn't really look like a Gallery Tunic.

But on to the nitty gritty.  I used the same sizing mods for this one as on my first Gallery Tunic.   I cut a size 8 with an FBA, the body being widened to a 16. The sleeve is also adjusted for a fuller bicep.

The part of this shirt that I'm most excited about is the ruffle collar.  I like the juxtaposition of the girly ruffle and the more masculine plaid.  To make the ruffle, I used the mandarin collar piece, and then cut a ruffle 1.5 times the length of the collar by 2.25".  Then I folded the ruffle in half lengthwise, gathered up the raw ends until the ruffle was the same length as the collar, and sewed it in between the two collar pieces, right sides together.  Using the 1/2" seam allowance, my ruffle finished at 5/8".  My collar did get stretched out somehow at the back, but since my hair is usually down, I'm not going to let it bother me too much.  I do really like how it looks at the front.  This fabric is very thin and drapey, so the collar flops open a little, which is what I was going for.  A ruffle collar that stands too close to the neck is not a look I feel comfortable in, but a floppy ruffle, I can totally do.

Once I realized I had made a mistake in cutting the front as two pieces rather than as one on the fold, I decided to just interface and fold the front edges to the wrong side to create a button placket.  The original pattern includes a 1" pleat at the bust, which then hangs free below the bust.  So I made each placket 1" and topstitched them down.  As you can see above, I didn't bother making buttonholes where I knew I wouldn't fasten the buttons.  The placket looks like it's angled at the top but it actually is completely straight.

The back yoke was another easy modification.  I lined the yoke via the burrito method and I really like the added detail of the bias-cut yoke at the back.  Although I was careful in my handling, and stay-stitched all necklines, I still ended up with some stretching at the back, as you can see below.  That will pretty much always be covered by my hair, though, and I can't see it, so it's ok :)

All in all, I'm quite happy with the way this shirt turned out.  For being super-lightweight, it's quite warm, and just the slightest bit scratchy, which makes me wonder whether there is any wool content.  I don't remember a wooly smell when I washed the fabric, though that was actually a couple of years ago ...

My single gripe with this shirt is the fact that it seems to highlight my bust in a way that my first Gallery does not.  I wonder whether this is because of my back yoke - the shirt is a little tighter across the bust than the first Gallery.  I may need to widen the bottom of the yoke a bit if I make this one again ... and like the first time I made the Gallery, I'm not certain I will try again.  But you never know. 

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Gift Tillery

I've worn my Tillery skirts quite a lot since finishing them last month.  Every time my sister-in-law, A,  has seen me wearing the denim one, she has commented how much she likes it.  Turns out that she had been eyeing similar skirts in stores, but that they were all too short for her taste.  So I offered to make her one and she suggested that it be her birthday gift.

I had just enough denim from my skirt left over to make hers.  It is a cotton/poly blend that I got on sale from Joann's with the intentions of making pants.  It's quite drapey for denim, which I think is actually very nice for this pattern.  I sewed up a size 6 graded to a 10 waist based on A's measurements.  It was quite enlightening to measure her, actually, as I would have assumed she was a straight size.  She is slim, and looks very proportionate - the type of figure that I would assume has it easy fitting RTW sizes.  Not so at all, though - because of the difference between her waist and hips, she often has trouble with gaping waistbands.  It was a pleasure to sew this for her because I could tell from our first fitting, how grateful she was to have a garment that fit her exactly the way she wanted.

The sewing of this garment was straightforward, as I had sewn it up twice before.  I was working from the final version of the pattern, though, which has notches on the skirt panel pieces (the tester version did not have notches), and I cut some of the notches slightly too long, thinking that I had a 5/8" seam allowance to work with.  I neglected to take into account that the flat-felled seams meant that some of the seam allowances would be visible.  Luckily I was able to make it work, but if you are making this pattern, be sure to be sparing with fabric when you cut the notches - I wouldn't cut them wider than a scant 1/4". 

Once again I used Dritz Heavy Duty Snaps and found them easy to work with.  I was unable to put belt loops on this one because my sewing machine just would not sew them on.  I couldn't figure out what the problem was, as I had made myself this exact skirt in this exact fabric, but then I realized that I had accidentally interfaced both waistband pieces.  Oops.  So the waistband is extra-firm, but A doesn't mind.  I also added a hidden snap between the second and third snaps from the top - if you look carefully in the photo above you can see where it is.  There is just a bit of pulling in that area, so I probably should have graded the pattern lines a bit differently, but it looks good on and doesn't feel tight on her.

Since I got this skirt sewn up, I've been sewing up a lot of knits for my kids, and haven't been successful in getting photos of them, thus the month-long blog silence.  I am hoping to cut a new pair of jeans for myself after I finish the pile of kid knits on my sewing table, so hopefully I'll see you back here relatively soon.

Until then, thanks for reading!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Corduroy Tillery Skirt

The skirt I'm showing off today has already become a wardrobe staple.  This is the new Tillery Skirt from Blank Slate Patterns, which I tested earlier this fall.  I've worn it at least once a week since completing it, with flats and a t-shirt or a button-down.  And although I'm not dying for the weather to cool off, I am looking forward to wearing it with boots once the temperature drops.  

The fabric calls for a non-stretch woven, but I really wanted to use this corduroy that has been hanging out in the stash since we lived in Tbilisi.  It's a stretch cotton corduroy, but is fairly stiff and stable, so I figured it would work ok (and it did).  I sewed a size 14 according to my measurements, and ended up taking a wedge out of the waistband (1/2" at the top, 1/4" at the bottom), doing a sway-back adjustment and adding 1.5" of length to the knee-length view of the pattern (I am 5'8").

The skirt has three views - mini, knee-length and midi.  It features a snap-front, seven flat-felled seams, pockets and five belt loops.  The skirt is a pretty quick sew despite all the flat-felled seams.  I was also pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to install the heavy duty snaps (I used these).  I changed up the suggested snap placement a little bit to provide more snap coverage at the fullest part of my belly, where the placket wants to gape open.

The pattern is designed to sit at the natural waist, which I was a bit skeptical about, as my natural waist is super-high and I never wear anything there.  But I actually really like wearing the skirt with a tucked-in button-down.  After completing the corduroy one, I made a denim one, which must have gotten stretched out during sewing because it sits considerably lower than the first skirt.  And I find I don't wear it nearly as often.

I also messed up the snap placement on the denim skirt, and it gapes a bit towards the top of the placket.  I keep meaning to sew a snap on the inside, but honestly I will probably end up donating this skirt.

The purple one, though, is a winner.  Here are a few more photos of it.

 Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Bonn #4

Another week, another Bonn.  (Don't worry, I've decided that after this one, I should probably crack open a different button-down shirt pattern as I round out my fall and winter wardrobe.)  The newest horse in my stable is made out of what appears to be a cotton/linen blend shirting I recently ordered from FabricMart.

This one is a size 10DD with a 1 1/8" forward shoulder adjustmen. Both the body and the sleeves are lengthened 1.5" and point of the V neckline is an inch lower.  Now, maybe because of the lower-v and the forward shoulder, the neckline isn't as open as I'd like and I notice that the back neckline is just a bit too wide.  I am thinking of reducing the length of the neckline and collar (ok, maybe I will make another one sooner than I had thought).

Like on my last two Bonns, the bust darts are an inch shorter and an inch lower, and the sleeves are a size 10 with a 1.5" full bicep adjustment.  I find on this one that the sleeves are a little too voluminous below the elbow.  I think they look great rolled up, though (and the extra volume makes a neat roll a little bit easier).

I ended up hemming the shirt with self-fabric bias binding.  I did have to redo it once, as I had forgotten to clip the seam allowance before turning it up, but once I did that, the hem fell flatter than the hems on any of my previous Bonns (though still not completely flat, grrr).  I just can't seem to figure out how to hem a curved shirt tail satisfactorily.

Also, I want to note for future Masha that this shirt used up 64 inches of a 57" wide fabric.

Like my other Bonns, this one is sure to be a regular in my fall and winter rotation.  It's not actually warm enough to wear it yet (and I'm totally ok with that), but I imagine I'll be reaching for it in a few weeks.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Last bit of vacation sewing

I know it's September 17, and evidently Target thinks time is nigh to throw the ol' Christmas lights up on the shelves.  (It's not.)  Because, guys, summer isn't quite over.

Here in my part of the world, we've had a few lovely 80-degree days recently.  Today I realized that I hadn't blogged the Pony tank I am wearing with my newly shortened Alberta Street skirt, so I decided to get a few photos and put them up here for future reference.

The tank was one of those it's-almost-vacation-and-I-need-to-make-something-new impulse sews.  Like my previous Pony Tank (the blue and white one, as I ended up giving the other one to my mother-in-law in July), this one is a straight size 16 with the exception of the armscye depth, which I cut on the size 8 line.

I once read a review of a dramatic hi-lo top on a blog (I can't remember which), where the writer described the back part of the top as a "butt cape."  Wearing my first Pony makes me feel a bit like I have on a butt cape, so I decided to shorten the back a bit.  I think I actually shortened the whole thing, but the drapey rayon sprang up higher than I had expected, so I ended up leaving the edges raw. I like these proportions better than the ones on my other Pony.

I also recently shortened my denim Alberta Street skirt.  I love this skirt and wear it all the time, through all seasons.  This summer, however, the length suddenly seemed a little frumpy.  I was really surprised; I've always been a knee-length-or-longer kind of girl when it comes to skirts, usually feeling uncomfortable in a skirt any shorter.  But I think my style is changing a bit, influenced no doubt by the legions of sewing blogs I read.

I'm digging a shorter skirt these days, so I took off about 2.5 inches and I'm really pleased with the results.  I almost can't wait to try it with tights and boots.  Except, I can.  Summer, don't leave me yet!

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!