Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Reversible Lane Raglan Tunic

My first #2018makenine project is complete! And I'm only a few weeks into the year haha! This tunic was love immediately, then I tweaked it and it became even harder love. I've worn it about ten times already and it's only been done for a week, so...figure that one out.


There is nothing better than a warm, snuggly sweatshirt in the dead of winter, except of course a warm, snuggly ~stylish~ sweatshirt. After a friend's suggestion, I decided to try the Lane Raglan with a French terry, and hack it a bit for tunic length. I used an amazing cotton/modal "salt and pepper" French terry that I got from The Fabric Store. The modal gives it wonderful drape and softness, and the cotton keeps it warm. Seriously, RUN to their website and buy a million yards of it.


The "right" side of the fabric is a plain grey, but the "wrong" or looped side is a super cool black and white. When I started this tunic I decided to make the looped side the right side because I liked the colors better. When I finished the garment, I realized that it wasn't as warm as it could be since my loops were facing out (the loops are what trap warm air and keep it close to your skin). So, I grabbed my fancy new Brother PC-420PRW, flipped the tunic inside out, and topstitched down all my serged seams. Yes, even the length of the side seams all the way up to the sleeve cuff (not easy, but not impossible!).

Smooth side out

I used black thread in the bobbin and grey on top. The grey blended into my grey serger thread, and the black basically disappeared in the salt and pepper loops. The hem was done with black thread in my coverstitch, but I think it works fine both ways for a casual sweatshirt.

Loop side out

One accidental modification I made was to the sleeve length. The pattern includes directions for a thumbhole cuff, and in that case you need the sleeve to be extra long. I accidentally cut the extra long sleeve length and added a regular cuff. I could have gone back and fixed it, but after a day of wear I didn't mind the length.


After all the topstitching, the tunic is now reversible! On a cold day, I can wear it "loops in" and for a warmer one, "loops out". Either way, it pairs perfectly with my Sloomb wool leggings, which hardly ever leave my body.


To make the Lane Raglan pattern a tunic, I added 4" of length starting at the waist. I traced my pattern up until that point, then moved my pattern piece down 4", while also moving it OUT to grade out the side seams. In other words, it's 4" longer and also a few inches wider from the waist down. I made a size small. Generally, I stay away from raglans because I think they have to be tight-fitting to avoid silly looking fabric folds around the shoulders and bust. It's fine for a sweatshirt, but I can't see myself with a closet full of Lane Raglan t-shirts like a lot of sewists. I'll stick to my Union St. tees for that!


Despite my dislike of the way they fit, raglans are SO fast to sew, they're hard to resist. I could see more of these in my future if the right fabric comes along. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Hat and Scarf Set

Happy New Year to all my readers! Are we all setting our sights on new projects for the year? I felt pretty good on New Year's Eve when I finished my latest knit item, a hat for my daughter to match a cowl I previously knit. There was something so satisfying about making that last stitch as I watched 2017 wind down.


The hat probably looks familiar, it's the Tin Can Knits Barley pattern that I showed previously, made for myself. I'm happy to report that the sizing on this one is much better. This time I used an inexpensive cotton yarn from Jo-Ann's. I wanted to try knitting with something other than wool, and I wanted navy to go with my daughter's coat (made by me and blogged here). This yarn was okay, it didn't glide as smoothly off my bamboo needles as the wools I've used before. No idea if that's a function of the yarn or its fiber content. I'm still learning!


The cowl I made a few months ago, on a road trip to North Carolina. It was a great car project because it didn't require any new skills, or double-pointed needles for decreases like with the hat. My daughter has been wearing it to school almost every day, so I'd say she likes it! The cowl pattern is also from Tin Can Knits, it's the Oats Cowl in child size.


Believe it or not, I actually made a third Barley hat, although this one is not in a matching set. This one was for my middle daughter. It's a touch too small for my liking but per usual I didn't knit a test swatch, so don't listen to me when it comes to sizing. She should be able to last the winter in it. This version was knit with a wool/acrylic blend that I bought ages ago for practicing. I didn't love how splitty it was, but I do like the color and feel. Both my daughters get so excited when I hand them things that I knit just for them, which is an awesome feeling!


That catches me up on knitting projects! Nothing is on the needles right now as I transition back to sewing for a while. I'm dying to knit a sweater but it's not in the budget at the moment. Meanwhile I have 1000 yards of fabric stashed away, waiting to be sewn, and I received not one but TWO new sewing machines for Christmas. I should have plenty to keep me busy for a while!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tin Can Knits Barley Hat

In a completely unoriginal move for a sewing blogger...I knit something! I sew because I love having control of my wardrobe, so it naturally follows that knitting would interest me as well. My husband bought me a beginner book two Christmases ago (!) and this fall I finally finished my first item!


This is the Barley Hat by Tin Can Knits. TCK has a great series of free patterns that are meant to teach and build upon one another. The first in the series is a scarf, which I started and never finished about a year ago. I felt ready to move on to the hat, though, and it was a great next step.


The real reason I was inspired to pick up the needles again is this yarn. It’s called Species, and it was released by my favorite company, Sloomb. They mainly produce cloth diapers and wool clothing, but over the summer they released yarn in some of their most popular clothing colorways. This color is called Carbon. It’s 100% Merino wool and crazy soft. It was a little splitty but I got used to it after a while of working with it (and I’m a noob so it could’ve just been me).


Not being primarily a knitter, it’s difficult for me to properly review this project! I do have Ravelry notes here. Unfortunately, as much as a I love this hat, it turned out way too big. I followed the size chart but I did not knit a test swatch (whoops) so it’s probably my fault. You can see that it ended up VERY slouchy, which is fine, except that it’s so loose it slides down my face. Whomp whomp. My husband tried it on and it wasn’t quite right for him either. I’m considering the unpardonable sin of purposefully machine washing and drying it in order to felt and shrink the wool. I do not recommend this process unless you’re really familiar with wool and know what you’re doing, since felting also reduces stretch. We’ll see...there’s nothing worse than working hard on something that doesn’t fit right.


I actually have another hat on the needles right now, with this same pattern, but it’s for one of my kids and it’s in a different yarn. I hope the sizing will be better. For now, I’m enjoying the learning process of knitting, and I really like having a portable project I can do on the go. My ultimate goal is to be able to knit sweaters and socks, the two things that are difficult to get right with sewing. Basically, I want to #makeallthethings.


Have you branched out to knitting?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

How to Fit Your Handmades into Your Wardrobe

Like a lot of people, I’m often pulled in by the “oooh shiny” phenomenon in sewing. How many times have you sewn something new, only to have it languish away in your closet? And how often is that because it doesn’t go with anything? I call these pieces “unicorns” although I’ve also seen them referred to as “widows” or “orphans” (too depressing for me, I’d rather imagine my closet full of mythical creatures!). Recently, I’ve tried to be more mindful about the new items I sew and how they’re going to work with my current style. I’ve developed a few steps to help eliminate these beautiful, but not-so-useful, unicorns!

Listen to the fabric
Everyone is different in the way they purchase fabric, but I think all sewists tend to buy faster than they can sew! Inevitably, we end up with stash fabric that loses its original purpose. We know we want to use it, but we can’t decide how. When I run into trouble is when I attempt to force certain fabrics to do certain things, just for the sake of using it up. For example...


...I bought this open knit jacquard many years ago, because it was cool. That was the only reason! I had two yards, which meant I COULD do many things: dress, cardi, skirt, top. But due to the open nature, I kept getting stumped. A top or dress would need lined. For years (literally) I debated about what to do with it. In the end, it was so simple! A lightweight, lacy knit could really only be a cardigan. Once I listened to the fabric, I had my answer.

Look for inspiration
After deciding on a style for your fabric, I find it helpful to browse photos of what your finished garment might look like. Going back to my example, I knew the fabric wanted to be a cardigan, but I couldn’t picture how a navy and white striped cardigan would fit into my wardrobe. What would I wear with it? I pulled up Pinterest and did a search for “navy and white striped cardigan”.


Most of my results were actually navy and white striped shirts with cardigans of other colors. But there were enough real-life examples to give me an idea of how to wear this particular style. Overwhelmingly, they were worn with plain colored shirts underneath, typically white or navy, or sometimes grey or black.

Next I asked myself, do I have these plain shirts? If I have them, is this a look I want to wear? Does the silhouette work for me? If the answers to these questions is no, then you have some more thinking to do. If the answers are yes, then you can feel fairly confident in moving on to choosing a pattern and making your garment. Pairing the right fabric to the right pattern is an art in and of itself, and it's not something I'm going to cover today. I will assume you've chosen the right pattern to meet your fit needs and to match the fabric you've chosen (you can see my full review of the cardigan sewing here).

Mix and match
Once you've finished your garment, don't just toss it on a hanger and wait around for the day you want to wear it. I admit, I'm completely guilty of this habit! After I finished my cardigan, I attempted to just throw it on top of an outfit, and I realized that it simply didn't work. I decided to slow down and invest some time into figuring out exactly how to wear and style this item.


I went back to Pinterest to remind myself of my original inspiration. I pulled out all my solid colored tops and tried different colors underneath until I found what looked best.


I paid attention to the necklines. I also swapped out different cuts and washes of jeans. Finally, I tried different shoes and various styling such as a half-tucked shirt, a fully-tucked shirt, an infinity scarf looped twice, looped three times, etc. I did my makeup.


Yes, this process took time and effort. I estimate I spent at least 30 minutes figuring out what worked, and why. I learned that the cardigan looks best with solid white or navy tops underneath, and with a pair of pants that have a decent amount of color contrast, to avoid looking like a big navy blob. I found a slight hole in my wardrobe, in that I could use a white tank top with some sort of embellishment along the neckline (the one in the photos is definitely too small).

Photograph
Finally, after mastering your outfits you want to be able to remember them! I made sure to take photos when I liked a look. I ended up with three different combinations. It's easy enough to make an album on your phone, or you can use a more advanced process like the Stylebook app. A few weeks later I wore the cardigan again, and I couldn't remember how I liked it! I was so glad I had the photos so I could quickly find the pieces I needed to finish off my look.

Do you have any of your own tips for incorporating handmades into your wardrobe?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan

This is my new favorite thing.


Back in the day, I had a RTW cardigan with this same drop pocket look. I LOVED that thing, and it disappeared, and I hate myself because I'm sure it's in my house and I just can't find it. I had saved Jalie 3248 ages ago but finally decided to buy it recently. I bought the PDF directly from Jalie. It wasn't a perfect assembly, some lines didn't match up. It wasn't layered so I had to trace off my size and true the lines. But it was worth the front-end effort. I'm so glad I made it up right away because I LOVE it (did I mention that?).


There are a couple important details to know about this pattern if you make it (and you should). First, the sleeves are narrow, as stated in the description it's intended to be worn over a sleeveless top. I found that to be true. Second, it's a fabric hog. The front is doubled over and doubled up. I had two yards and only just eeked out my size (R). So don't ignore the fabric yardage chart! I'm not 100% certain but I think my fabric was a touch narrower than 60", so make sure your's is wide enough.


Using stripes turned out not to be such a terrible idea. Cutting was a PITA of course, but keeping each layer properly aligned was easier with stripes. There are plenty of notches but I could ignore them if I wanted and just use the stripes. The fabric is a knit jacquard and the white lines are open lace. I believe it was from Girl Charlee many years ago.

Dog photobomb

This is one of those patterns where the directions make no sense if you read them ahead of time. But in the process of sewing, everything worked. I did have two windows up on my computer at once so I could flip back and forth between the written directions and diagrams. The pockets are constructed in a really cool way and it's more involved than just folding over the front. Here's a really terrible photo of the pocket pulled out of the fold.


The only thing I would do differently next time is the finishing of the back neckline. The directions have you fold a strip of fabric to the outside and topstitch. I would rather turn it to the inside.


The shoulder seams are finished so that the seam allowance is enclosed.


Believe it or not, this was actually a fast sew, and I had most of it done during one nap time (just the sewing, cutting was a different story). I did not hem the sleeves. I like them extra-long, they would be an acceptable length if I did hem, though.


Forgive my ugly backyard and my dogs running through the photos. There just isn't enough daylight in the evening for photos anymore! Gotta grab what pictures I can during nap time.

If you need a new cardigan in your life, make it this one!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Cyber Monday sale on A Sewist’s Notebook

Looking for that special gift for a sewing friend (or yourself)? Until midnight eastern today, take 40% off all versions of A Sewist’s Notebook! Use code CYBER40 at checkout. Undecided on whether or not you need a copy? (You do.) Check out the many reviews and photos on the About the Book page.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Project Runway finale recap

I have to admit, this was the first time in a long time that I’ve felt complete surprise during a finale! What I thought would happen, didn’t, and the one I expected to fail, succeeded. What a good episode!

Spoilers ahead...

After the previews last week, I thought it was down to Brandon and Ayana. I felt like Margarita was put through sort of as a courtesy to her being the Tim Gunn save. Honestly I wasn’t sure why Kentaro was sent to Fashion Week at all, since he received bad feedback.

“Designing fashion is exciting, it’s kind of like I’m making food for the soul.” -Kentaro

I love this quote. I also loved when he said that he felt like he’d already lost, which was a GOOD thing, because then he could do whatever he wanted.

Margarita’s collection was fun, but I feel badly for her if she thought she could really win. To me, the judges just wanted to see a colorful runway and never had any intention of giving her a win.

When Kentaro’s collection walked, I was stunned. The flow of looks was amazing. The colors told a story. It was like watching artwork that moved. The eerie quiet of the audience, paired with the music he composed, was haunting.

I was highly anticipating Brandon’s collection, but it turns out I was disappointed. I agreed with the judges about the lack of diversity in his fabrics. I understood what he was doing with his various silhouettes, but it just didn’t work. His most interesting looks were the ones that incorporated the pink leather, but sadly there weren’t enough of those.

Ayana’s collection pretty much looked how I expected. The prints weren’t my favorite, the silhouettes were old, and I can’t get on board with ruffles. But I think she accomplished what she wanted. I give her kudos for her finale dress. It was possibly the most beautiful garment made this season.

Going into the judging, I thought Ayana had a slight edge over Brandon. As much as I loved Kentaro’s, I thought it would be too cerebral for Project Runway. But to be honest, I wasn’t sure at all how it would go, and that was fun! I was pleasantly surprised when the win went to Kentaro. He deserved it and his collection was beautiful.

What did you think of the finale? Was Kentaro the clear winner?