Spring Kimono

Fabric: rayon from Fine Fabrics

Pattern: Simplicity 4552

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I’m going to Europe with my mom this summer – just us girls!  We are going for her 70th birthday and taking a river cruise.  I am excited about many aspects of this trip (leaving my kids for a week!), but especially excited about all the clothes I need to make.  The first thing I decided I needed was a cute spring kimono top.  Something light and flowy that I can throw on over a tee or tank as needed.

I conceived of this project as being made with a tropical print in a neutral olive color.  After browsing online and not finding what I wanted, I headed over to Fine Fabrics in Norcross, GA.  We are short on apparel fabric stores in Atlanta, so even though this is a hike for me (and sometimes and all day activity), it’s the place I go when I need to touch everything first.  So obviously I didn’t find an olive tropical print, but I did find this one that I kept coming back to (plus enough other fabric to keep me busy for a while).

This Simplicity pattern is from 2005.  I happened to be inventorying a box while this project was kicking around in my mind, and there were two copies of it, so I grabbed one for personal use.  I made the size 14 – my bust is between the 14 and 16 but everything else I’ve made lately in the large size has been too big – and it fits no problem.

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I played with two types of hems on this one.  I did a rolled hem on the sleeves and a narrow hem on the bottom.  I originally planned on doing a rolled hem along the bottom too, but wasn’t thrilled with the thread color I used on the sleeves.  I think it would have looked better if I had matched either the orange or pink instead of the one of the lighter colors.

I didn’t really like the way the sleeves went in on this pattern.   They set in fine along the arm hole, but the instructions had me sew up the body sides and sleeve seam in a right angle and I am not thrilled with the way they feel in the underarm.  I thought maybe it was the way I did it, but I ripped and re-sewed twice and they came out the same.  Of course, I could be totally misunderstanding the instructions.

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Another thing I didn’t like with this pattern is the front facing.  Again, just not a fan of the design.  Once the facing was attached, the pattern had me top-stitching it in place, but I felt like the top-stitching is too far away from the edge.  This is just a nit picky thing, because from more than a foot away, I can’t see it at all.  I also decided that it might be improved by using a different interfacing (one a little more drapier than the one I used).

Also – I had my first serger whoops!  I was happily finishing off a side seam when I turned my head to respond to some question, and knifed a small hole through the seam!  I was so mad at myself.  Of course, this is the reason I buy extra fabric, but did I start over?  Nope.  I figured the hole wasn’t too bad and the garment was loose and flowy, so I just moved the seam over slightly to cover it up.

So, not my favorite make, but not a throw-away either.   This is my first kimono-style shirt I’ve had, and I am really enjoying the versatility of it.  It is especially useful here in GA in the spring.  I will be making more of this type of shirt, maybe not with this pattern (depends on how lazy I am).  I think it will fulfill its purpose for at least one season.  My oldest daughter is already coveting it, so maybe I will pass it along.

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Still Waters Sleeveless Knit

Introducing the Still Waters Sleeveless Knit!  I designed this simple and versatile garment as an under layer for a button down or cardigan, or as a single layer for cool spring/fall days.

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I was looking for something a little warmer than my standard cotton tank to wear underneath a button down shirt on days that were cold, but didn’t want the bulk of sleeves nor the extra warmth (it rarely gets cold enough here in GA for 2 heavy layers).

This piece was knit using Purl Soho’s Linen Quill yarn in Stillwater Blue.  The color is absolutely gorgeous in this yarn.  There are very subtle shades of dark blues, browns, and grays.  I picked this yarn for the colorway and also for the linen/wool blend – two fibers designed to regulate body temps in heat and cold.

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The neckline is a high crew with a small rolled collar.  There is a very subtle texture change between knit and purl stitches in the shape of a “V” to give some added interest.  The bottom has a simple garter stitch hem.  The fit is close, but not tight with a slight flare from the bust to the hips.

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This is the first women’s pattern of mine that I have graded and written down, so if you have any questions, or something looks off, please let me know (nicely)!

You can download the pattern on Ravelry.

 

Wanderlust Tee

Fabric: Jersey Knit Stripes Ivory/Silver (polyester) from fabric.com

Pattern: Wanderlust Tee by Fancy Tiger Crafts

I chose this pattern and fabric to test my new serger that I got for Christmas!  I wanted to make a cropped, boxy tee to go with a high waisted skirt I already have.  The fabric was purchased for something else, but luckily I always buy 3 yards just in case, so I had enough for this tee and for the other project.

First, OMG – why did it take me so long to get a serger!!!!  I love it!  I still maintain you can use a sewing machine for this project, but the serger was so easy, and I love the results.  I will be finishing most of my seams with it from now on.  I had a blast running scraps through it and boring everyone else in my household to tears with my samples I insisted on showing them.

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This pattern was easy and fast.  I had a little trouble with the neckline, where I missed a spot and then had to go back and made it not so even with the rest, but it’s not overly noticeable.  I love the sleeves on this pattern, and can see making a couple of these and lengthing some of them to get some great loose tees to go with skinny jeans.  I chose to make it without the pocket to dress it up a little (and because I really just wanted to use the serger and putting on the pocket was the first step).

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Plaid Archer Shirt

Fabric: Cotton Flannel from Mood Fabrics

Pattern: Archer Button Up by Grainline

I accidentally shrunk my favorite (and only) plaid shirt by Rails in the wash when it got all balled up and hidden inside something else.  I considered it one of my winter wardrobe staples and I really miss it.  Their shirts are by far my favorite.  I love the hand on the fabric, I feel like it’s well made and long lasting, and I love the way they fit.  Well worth the price if anyone is looking to buy a button down.

However, since I started this little thing called sewing my own clothes, I thought it might be time to tackle the Archer Button Up by Grainline.  Everyone raves about this pattern and Instagram is full of beautiful projects.

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Size: My bust is between a 10 and 12, but the finished measurements are more of where I want them.  Just to be clear, I seldom wear my shirts buttoned – mostly because I have never found one that buttons across the bust without gaping and doesn’t look huge elsewhere.  Also – given the results of my last few project (I wish I had sized down on all of them), I decided to learn from previous projects even though my brain is screaming at me to be safe rather than sorry.  I am ok with possibly making this too small for the following reasons (1) I am not absolutely in love with this fabric and it’s new, so I will be ok if I have to buy more, and (2) my 2nd attempt at any pattern is always better than the first.  Ok – really I’m just trying to talk myself into making the smaller size as I type this.  But, now reading through the instructions, it says to size up if you’re in between sizes.  Better sew a size 12.  If it’s too big this time, I’ll size down for the next project.  Size 12 it is.

I had a very difficult time with the plaid – I could not seem to get the vertical and horizontal stripes squared off.  I ended up deciding to cut a lot of pieces on the bias, and then focusing on getting the horizontal stripes straight, which I think was the right move.

I am super thrilled with the results and wearing it right now!  I am willing to concede that I might have needed to size down.  Before making any final decisions on that, I’m going to wear and launder this a bunch and see if that makes a difference.  I was nervous about the pattern complexity at first, but Grainline had a photo tutorial on their blog that was helpful in clearing up a few directions I couldn’t seem to visualize.  So, bonus points for that!

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Gallery Tunic

Pattern: Gallery Tunic and Dress from Liesel & Co

Fabric: thrifted

I fell in love with this fabric when I first saw it.  I was going through a large bin at an estate sale, and the lady next to me pulled it out of her bin.  I’m pretty sure I held my breath until she put it down and I casually asked if it was hers before snatching it.  Looking at it, I saw either a men’s-wear inspired winter skirt or a tunic, and since I hardly ever wear skirts in the winter, I decided it needed to be a tunic.

It took me a long time to find the right pattern for it.  I’ve been keeping a running list of indie pattern companies as I hear about them and still couldn’t find it.  I was thinking that Grainline’s Archer shirt would be awesome in tunic length for this, but felt it might be too complicated for me at this time.  I almost shelved the fabric until I felt confident enough to tackle the Archer, but oddly enough, I was looking on Oliver & S for a pattern to use for the girls and I saw that they had adult patterns!  How did I not know this?  Anyway, I discovered the Gallery Tunic & Dress pattern, and decided it was perfect!

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After reading a few reviews, I made a size 12 because my bust (38.25) fits solidly between the 10 and 12, but my waist (32) and hips (40) are between a 12 and 14.  All of the reviews I could find that mentioned fitting said to size for bust and not hips because of the style.  I also chose to leave the bust dart out.  I should have gone down to a 10 and will do that with my next one.

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Overall, I’m happy with this make!  I’ve worn it a bunch this winter and am already plotting a couple warmer weather versions.

 

Preppy Sun Dress

Fabric: Thrifted cotton plaid

Pattern: McCall’s 7120, View D

I finally decided it was time to work my way through the Sewing StartUp Library class on Craftsy that I had purchased on sale a while ago, and this McCall’s pattern is the one that comes with the class.  When you buy the class, you have to specify which size pattern to purchase, so I looked at the measurements and picked a size L based on the bust.  Then I began watching the class and apparently, the big 4 uses a high bust measurement.

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Is this some big sewing secret that everyone except me knows?  I find no mention of this anywhere – not the sewing blogs I read, or the podcasts I listen to, or even the few links I clicked about measuring yourself.  It was also mentioned that indie patterns tend to use full bust measurements.   I did eventually find this in a very confusing article about measuring yourself on the McCall’s website.  However, I had already ordered a size L when I really needed the medium, which was not in the packet I ordered.

I debated attempting to grade the pattern, but in the end, I decided that I was taking this class to learn more about sewing garments, and to focus on the techniques first, then I would worry about fit.  That being said, I found the class highly valuable, even though I know my way around the sewing machine quite well.  I was very happy with the dress I ended up with (I even managed to match my plaids pretty well – one side seam is perfect, but the other is off about 1/4″).

The dress is definitely too large though.  The style and the belt keep it from being a complete throw away, but it will probably turn into an around-the-house-only dress or a pool coverup.  But, for a first dress, not too shabby.  And while taking the photos for this post, I discovered that my favorite look is where I moved the belt to create an empire waist (being short waisted, this style is more flattering).

 

 

Margot Cardigan

This cardigan.  Its story begins in October when I was shopping at Target with the Kindergartener.  She fell in love with this sweater:

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I had a super proud-mama moment when she touched it and promptly told me it was made from cheap yarn, then she asked me if I could make her one.  Sure, no problem!

But then the problems.  I had no less than 7 different shades of gray yarn in my stash with enough quantity to make this sweater.  Not one of them was the right shade of gray.  According to my daughter, the right shade of gray was a super-expensive cashmere from the yarn store.  I disagreed.  We finally settled on Berroco Vintage in Smoke.  Yarn aside – Berroco Vintage is one of my favorite yarns for kid sweaters.  It’s machine washable, knits up well, has a great color selection, wears decently, and is inexpensive.  I have a sweater for myself out of it, and it’s starting to look a little rough after 3 years, but for a kid sweater that lasts us a season – no problem.

I think it’s important to note that we agreed on this yarn because when I knit a swatch for stitch pattern approval, my 5 year old found many things wrong with it.  First, it did not have a same sparkle as the Target sweater (which had a metallic thread running through it) and ribbing was yicky, she wanted it all in stockinette (no cuffs – she has a weird thing about cuffs).  By this time, I was totally ready to spend the $20 on this sweater from Target and forget making it, but of course, they no longer had it anywhere.

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I designed this pattern for a quick and easy-ish knit.  I did a raglan sleeve construction, knit flat in one piece with patch pockets knit separately and seamed on at the end.  I solved the sparkle problem by knitting every few rows with a specialty sequin yarn wrapped around the gray.  I added a small garter stitch border to the bottom of the sweater, the sleeve cuffs, and the pocket tops to prevent rolling.  I knit a shawl collar around the edge using a wide ribbing to prevent curling.

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I was very happy to be done working with this super demanding client on this sweater, but I will say that she wore the thing for 5 days straight – even over her pjs one night.

Here is a pdf Margot Cardigan, or you can get it free on Ravelry.

 

 

Wrap Skirt

Fabric: Waistband/Ties – thrifted fabric; Main Skirt – Dark Blue Denim-Like Cotton Chambray from Mood fabrics

Pattern: The Versatile Wrap Skirt by Make It Perfect purchased from IndieSew.com

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I wanted to reconnect with garment sewing using something simple, and I had a cotton fabric very similar to the Mood fabric I eventually used in my stash.   I bought this fabric with the intention of making a wrap skirt for my daughter, but she did not like it, so I did a little searching and found a wrap skirt pattern for me.

Problem #1: while I had enough fabric yardage-wise, the shape of it was off, so I couldn’t get the back cut on the grainline the same way as the sides.  I decided to go ahead anyway and use it as a muslin or a test run since I haven’t sewn anything for myself in years.

I really took my time finishing seams and pressing the garment after every step.  A lot of times I’m in a rush to get a project finished and move on, but this time I (1) really wanted to get the practice in to improve my garments and (2) the skirt was seasonably inappropriate, so I couldn’t wear it anyway.

I made the skirt using the pattern as given (I decided not to put a contrasting band on the bottom), tried it on, and …. not so much.  I was pleasantly surprised that the grainline issue was really not as big of a problem as I thought.  You had to really get close to notice.  If it had fit, I would have kept it.  BUT…  or maybe I should say butt …. the back of the skirt was a lot shorter than the front.  And I have committed myself to really making clothes that fit because that’s a huge part of making my own wardrobe.

Luckily with a wrap skirt, there’s really only one reason that it wouldn’t fit, and that’s because it needed a full butt adjustment.  After countless YouTube videos, I felt pretty confident, and dived right in.  I modified the pattern for my butt and also added another inch to the hem and some more length to the ties while I was at it.

I wish I taken some pics of the first version before I cut it up for scraps, so I could have shown the difference – lesson learned for next time.  After I finished it, it looked pretty darn good, but I was too afraid to try it on!  It sat on my desk for at least 1 day before I worked up the courage.

Looking in the mirror was an incredible high.  Yes – there are some minor things that make this skirt not perfect.  But, for the most part, my butt adjustment worked (I am seriously so proud of myself).

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I made the bottom a little but more bell-shaped than I intended when I extended the hem and accidentally created these points where the sides attach to the back (which I fixed by ripping out the hem, pressing them out, and re-hemming).  Also – there is a slight gathering at my lower back when I tie the skirt at my natural waist.  I suspect this is caused by the placement of my full butt adjustment on the pattern.

My helper:

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Knitted Hat Holiday Ornaments

Since moving to the South, I have noticed that holiday decorating is taken very seriously down here.  So seriously that most everyone I know has more than one Christmas tree.  Well, last Christmas my family’s ornaments finally outgrew our one tree and we succumbed to a second tree.

I actually sent my husband out to get a small tree (I was thinking 2-3 feet), and he came back with a full size one, which we put in our sun room/kid craft room.  Once it was decorated, it looked very empty, so my daughters spent the whole season making ornaments for the tree, and then I received a few homemade ornaments that I added, and suddenly a new family tradition was born.

My daughters spent some time going through our ornaments and deciding what to make this year, and I decided to add my own too.  I had come across this free pattern from Kelbourne Woolens a while ago.  I decided on just making the hats using some left over Shibui Staccato.

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I had lots of fun with the colors and patterns, and each hat took under an hour to knit, so it was a quick project.  I still have plenty of left over yarn, so I may be making more of these to attach to gifts this year.

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