Thursday, February 22, 2018

Perfect Hudson Joggers

It’s rare that I wait years between patterns, and probably even more rare that I reorder a favorite fabric. Both of those things happened with this project!

If you haven’t tried a jogger pattern by now you’re missing out! So comfy, and lucky for moms everywhere athleisure is a real thing. I made some Hudson Joggers a few years ago and they’ve gotten a lot of wear. The fit was a little bit off, so I’ve been looking forward to trying it again with a few adjustments.

The fabric is cotton/modal French terry from The Fabric Store. I used it before for this Hey June Lane/Halifax hack. It is AMAZING. I couldn’t resist ordering more, all the way from New Zealand. Worth it.

The fabric isn't really pulling,
the problem is my hands in my pockets.

I used the loop side for the pocket accents, the waistband, and the ankle cuffs. I like the bit of contrast. For the drawstring, I used some cord left over from my Allegro Shorts. I just tied a knot in the end. My new sewing machine has a cool eyelet function, so I was able to sew a circle for the drawstring instead of a buttonhole.

I previously made a size 8 based on my hip measurement (38"). The hips fit great, but the pants were a little long, and the rise was a bit high for my personal tastes. For this version, I removed 1” from the leg at the lengthen/shorten line (for reference I’m 5’4”), and 1/2” from the rise, front and back. I forgot to adjust the pockets and it turned out fine. I did make sure to use a lightweight fabric for the pocket facing (leftover from this shirt), to cut down on bulk.

Now the fit is perfect, the fabric is perfect, and I somehow have to stop myself from wearing these every single day. I love when a vision comes together! And in case you were wondering, yes, that is my black Merino Union St. tee, and yes, I wear it about every other day.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Style Arc Eden Dress

I'm a big fan of Style Arc, I love their trendy styles and their monthly releases. And everyone can appreciate their freebies with purchase! This month, one of their free pattern options is the Eden Knit Dress. I instantly was drawn to the simplicity of the dress, and, of course, POCKETS!

The pattern is a freebie or available for purchase separately. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that promotion applied even with pdfs. I quickly checked through the SA website and found the Laura Knit Leggings pattern was inexpensive (and I could probably use a new leggings pattern anyway). I added that to my cart, then added the Eden, and the Eden was then discounted down to free! In retrospect, the leggings would actually work well with the Eden.

The Eden clocked in at around 30 some pages, which is about my limit on pdfs. Cutting was also a pain as I opted to do it single layer. The pattern suggested 2.2 yards for my size (6) and I ended up using almost 2 1/2. There was no cutting diagram in the pattern, here's how I did it:

Flip each piece over and then cut a second sleeve
beneath the first one.

The fit is excellent and spot on for my bust (~33"). The sleeves are narrow and long, which prevents the look from becoming overwhelming. I did remove 5" from the hem. I am 5'4" and I think SA drafts for 5'6". I probably went a teensy bit too short but it just depends on what you like, and what shoes you have for styling purposes. Next time I might make it a little longer and possibly go lower with the neckline (more like a V-neck Union St. tee).

Black blob photo

Speaking of the V-neck, the only time I deviated from the instructions was with the neckband. Since there is a center-front seam, I opted to leave that seam unsewn, sew on the neckband, and then sew up the center-front. I then tacked down the seam allowance. I ended up with a nice, neat V-neck without much effort.

The fabric I used is a rayon/spandex knit from Jo-Ann's. I recently had some time to kill there after picking up some elastic and browsed the fabric for the first time in ages. I was pleasantly surprised to find lots of gorgeous rayon knits, cotton sweater knits, and even quilted apparel fabrics. It wasn't all polyester and fleece (although there is still plenty of it!). There was more than one fabric that begged to come home with me, but I ended up with just this one. It's a touch sheer but probably only noticeable to me. I swear there is some polyester in it but it was not listed on the bolt, so who knows.

I wore this dress on Valentine's Day. It was the first time I've worn a dress in forever and I loved it more and more as the day went on. This pattern would be super fun to color-block but it also looks good in a print. I could see lots of these in my closet, especially as we transition into spring.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Merino Halifane Tunic

After the success of my Lane Raglan tunic hack, I decided to tackle a project that I've had in mind for a few months. I'm not sure how I got on the mailing list for Prana, but basically I want all their clothes and to do yoga on a mountain every day. In particular, I loved this raglan dress with a funnel neck:

The style lines aren't too complicated, and I decided I would try mashing up the Lane Raglan and the funnel neck from the Halifax Hoodie, then lengthen it into a tunic. I'm calling it a Halifane because obviously it has to have a name. After asking for some feedback in the Hey June Facebook group, it was suggested to me to use my regular size Lane (small) and a size up for the Halifax funnel neck (medium). This is exactly what I did and the results were amazing!

I considered adding a drawstring, but as I've mentioned before, they don't mix well with handsy kids. Mine is also more of a tunic than a dress, like my inspiration. To add the length, I again moved my pattern piece down 4" and out an inch or two (as detailed in this post).

One other change I made to standard sewing procedure is that I sewed everything with a 3/8" seam allowance. The Lane is drafted with a 1/4" and the Halifax with a 3/8". I was sewing most of this in the evening and I basically just forgot to pay attention to what I was doing (which is why I hardly ever sew after dinner).

I swear I pressed the hem

Now about this fabric! It's a wool knit from Mood, and I purchased it FIVE years ago. For shame. It's the first cut of wool fabric I ever bought. At the time, I thought it was a bit too itchy to use against the skin, and I had plans to make a fully lined wrap dress with it. Fast forward to now, I've become way more comfortable using, wearing, and hand washing wool. I hand washed this yardage and conditioned it the same way I do my other wool garments. After conditioning (yes, just like you would condition your own hair after shampooing) the fabric became soft and not at all scratchy. It's a medium weight and soooooo snuggly with this funnel neck.

And yes, I am aware that my entire wardrobe is black and grey. I'm working on it. Forgive me? I mean, I went outside in a 22 degree wind chill just to take these photos for you.

My cold weather face

I have enough fabric left to make a tank top or maybe even a tshirt. I'm thrilled I finally used one of the oldest pieces of fabric in my stash, and that it was worth the wait!

If you're looking for a hawwwt deal in this cold weather, check out the current sale on A Sewist's Notebook! Save 20% AND get FREE shipping! Use code SHIPSAVE20 at checkout. Hurry, ends Thursday, the 25th at midnight! Read all about these great planners here.

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).

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?