Thursday, July 20, 2017

Merino Union St. Tee

If you know me in real life, you know that I'm a bit obsessed with wool. I'm a huge fan of using wool in cloth diapering (specifically from the company Sloomb) and that love has crept over into my wardrobe too. Lately, I've been crushing HARD on all the gorgeous posts from The Fabric Store on their IG. It seems like they're the current "it" fabric source, everybody is sewing with their stuff. I hopped my butt onto their bandwagon and placed my first order a few weeks ago. Today I'm showing off my first garment, a Union St. Tee from Hey June Patterns.

So boring! So basic! A black V-neck t-shirt. Yawn. That might be what you're thinking, but I'm not! I love black. I love V-necks. It seemed impossible that I didn't already own a shirt like this, but I didn't. A friend of mine alerted me to the Summer of Basics sewalong (more on this in a later post), and what's more basic than a black t-shirt?

The hardest thing for me was choosing fabric. As I said, The Fabric Store has SO many beauties. I desperately wanted to order some of their lightweight merino knit, but at $23/yard it was out of my price range. Instead, I ordered this rayon knit. I wanted a soft, drapey shirt and I knew rayon would give me that. Imagine my surprise when my fabric arrived and the black knit felt, well, wrong! It was not the silky smooth, liquid feeling of rayon that I was expecting. In fact, it felt like wool. I double-checked my email receipt and I did order rayon. Perhaps this was just a weird rayon. I prewashed the fabric in a gentle cycle with mild detergent (my standard practice these days for rayon) and hung to dry. A few short hours later and I had my new t-shirt.

This is my second Union and it's a size small. It's a bit too big, but it fits exactly how I wanted it to fit. I think I could easily go down to an extra small for a more fitted look. I made life harder on myself by making the narrow V-neck, but I love how feminine it is. V-necks definitely get easier the more that you make them, so if you're scared, just keep trying!

After wearing the shirt a few times, I could not get over the idea that it was wool. I finally got around to a burn test. The scrap was slow to catch fire, hard to burn, and produced a brittle, black ash.

Everything I read pointed to wool. I couldn't tell if it smelled like burning is not something I burn on a regular basis! After posting a photo on IG, The Fabric Store immediately reached out to me and we exchanged a few messages. They helped me determine that more than likely, I had been sent one of their merinos by mistake. Oh happy accident! They offered to send me the rayon I originally ordered, but I assured them that would not be necessary, since I wanted wool in the first place and it just wasn't in the budget at the time.

To tempt you even further, The Fabric Store is currently running a 20% off sale! I also want to clarify a bit because I was originally confused about the site. The Fabric Store has 4 locations in New Zealand, 3 in Australia, and 1 in Los Angeles. For anybody that can't make it to a physical location, they also have an online store. Fabrics from the online store ship out of New Zealand. I *think* that if you're in the US, you can call the LA store and discuss their selection at that particular location. Shipping from New Zealand to my home in Indiana was about $14, which isn't much more than I would pay for a domestic shipment. Orders over $150 NZD (about $110 USD) ship free. They shipped quickly via DHL and it wasn't much longer than a shipment from California. Do be aware that they will charge your credit card in NZD, meaning that it is a foreign transaction, subject to extra fees (a few dollars in my case). My shipment required a signature, but DHL sent me a text alert with a link to authorize them to leave it without one. And I miiiiight have just gotten a second shipment yesterday because of the sale...

In the end, I absolutely adore this shirt and I'm so happy I ended up with a merino knit! Who knew that basics could be so lovable?

P.S. The shorts I'm wearing are made from linen from The Fabric Store. More on those later!

This post contains affiliate links (for the Union St. Tee only).

Monday, July 17, 2017

New Collection from AUrate

I've mentioned the book The Curated Closet a few times. It's been a great resource for defining my personal style (instead of just saying "I like that!"). Part of the process is collecting images and then figuring out exactly why a certain look or outfit appeals to you. One thing I've learned is that I love metallics. In a casual outfit or one with mostly neutral colors, a bit of shine can elevate a look and add a finishing touch. I've been looking for more ways to add metallics into my wardrobe, so it seemed like perfect timing last week when I was contacted by AUrate about their new jewelry collection.

AUrate is a relatively new company based in the US. Their mission is "Durable Materials, Transparent Pricing, Sustainable Production and Tangible Giving." They design and create their pieces in New York and offer direct-to-consumer, eliminating the wholesaler and reducing costs, making their jewelry far more affordable. AUrate is also involved in charitable giving and donates a book for every item purchased (read more about them here).

Beyond all these appealing business practices, the jewelry is exactly my style. If I had to define my style (and I do have to define it, after making my way through The Curated Closet!) I would call it "simple, with a twist". I love pieces that feel familiar but are unique. I could see any number of AUrate's creations in my life. Now that my littlest offspring has hit the 1 year mark, I'm excited to add jewelry back into my wardrobe without fear of it being grabbed or broken. 

AUrate is launching a new collection today, The Solid Circle Collection. Here are a few selections from the lookbook:

Check out the new collection and all the other pieces online. AUrate offers free shipping and returns in the US. I've been dying to get a bar necklace like this one (even before AUrate contacted me!) and I also love these two rings:

Do you use jewelry to pull together your looks? What are your favorite pieces? I've always been a white gold kind of gal (i.e. my wedding rings) but lately I love traditional yellow gold in my accessories, and rose gold is a great option as well.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Anthropologie Cardigan Knock-Off

I recently noticed a gaping hole in my wardrobe when it came to a lightweight summer cardigan. Y'know the kind, usually lacey or knitted, drapey, looks gorgeous on the model? A little oversized and oh-so-snuggly? Perfect for wearing around the campfire? Right before my vacation I went to a second hand store with that specific vision in mind and managed to find the cardigan of my dreams.

It's grey, so obviously amazing, with a cool pattern to the knit. It fits like a dream and is a great weight. According to the tag and Google, it's originally from Anthropologie. The only problem with buying second hand is, obviously, there aren't any more! (Not that I could afford full-price Anthro anyway.) Luckily for me, I can sew, and can fumble my way through copying a relatively easy garment. I had a lightweight sweater knit in my stash and was able to make a second perfect cardigan. I couldn't be happier with it!

The fabric is from Urban Rag Trader on Etsy. It's an amazing black/grey/silver mix and it matches everything in my closet. I've sewn with open sweater knits before (here and here) so I had some idea of what I was getting into. This one turned out to be pretty easy to cut and sew, I'm not exactly sure why. It didn't curl or shed much. It's a rayon blend and took well to pressing. I made sure to give myself a 1/2" seam allowance, any less would have made sewing much harder. I constructed it on my serger, making sure to lighten the presser foot pressure and turn up my differential feed.

To draft the pattern, I used Swedish tracing paper laid underneath half of the Anthro cardigan and traced around the edges, then added seam allowance. The sleeves are kimono with a machine knit single-layer cuff (I added a traditional double-layer cuff instead). The front edge is finished with machine knit single-layer ribbing, I used double-layer self-fabric. The front edge is simply a rectangle, so I measured that with my tape measure and added seam allowance. The back has a shaped center-back seam, which I basically drew free-hand after studying a similar seam on the Fiona cardigan. The bottom of the original was finished with single-layer ribbing as well, instead I simply cut a bit longer and hemmed by hand after serging the raw edge. It ended up a bit shorter than the original as well.

I didn't notice until I laid out the original, but the front edge is not straight up and down, it actually curves gently outward towards the bottom. That curve creates the lovely draping in the front, which you can see below. The only downside to this outward curve+kimono sleeve is that they made the pattern piece fairly wide. I struggled to fit my piece onto my fabric, so the sleeve is maybe a touch shorter than I would prefer. It worked out fine, but it's something I need to note moving forward with any other sweater knits. Sometimes those knits run narrow (this one is 50").

I've had a lot of sewing fails in the past, so it felt amazing to be so successful with a garment that I drafted myself. The fabric was definitely intermediate level but I was able to tame it (I guess after five years I can call myself an intermediate sewist haha). An all-around giant win! If you're interested in copying RTW garments and making your own patterns, check out my review of Stephanie Lincecum's Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit or check out her class on Craftsy.

This post contains affiliate links. When you shop using one of my links, your price remains the same, but I receive a small portion of the sale. Thank you for your support!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Cheeky Chonies no-show undies

A quick post today for a short holiday week (here in the states anyway!). If handmade undies aren't your thing, you can probably skip over this one, but I was so excited to find a pattern like this that I had to share!

I have a few garments where VPL can be a problem, but I'm not always crazy about wearing a thong underneath. The next best thing is no-show undies, but the home sewist doesn't have the ability to create seamless, laser-finished items like these. Once I found out about the Cheeky Chonies pattern from A Sparkly Baby, I decided it would be worth a try, before plopping down a bunch of money on RTW.

Fabric is key with this pattern. Spandex is a must, and there is an entire page of the pattern devoted to selecting the right fabric. I used a "satin milliskin" from Girl Charlee, ordered a long time ago. I would say it's similar to a swimsuit lining or lingerie weight textile, and I believe it's nylon/spandex. Any swim type fabric would work and ensure that your clothing slips easily over the undies. It also tends not to roll, meaning you can leave your edges unfinished without worrying about bunching. The lining piece is organic cotton I had in my stash.

My full hip measurement put me at a size 36, but I sized down based on the stretch of my fabric. I went all the way down to a 32 and I think these still ended up a touch big. They were not falling down or anything, but I would have preferred a tighter fit for my own peace of mind. There is only a center-back seam, so I can't adjust the ones I've already made. Luckily, they took very little fabric, so I don't feel like they were a waste.

These were just about the fastest item I've ever sewn, and they were made entirely on my sewing machine. I whipped up this pair to wear under my McCall's romper when I was headed out to a wedding. No panty lines, and basically made with scraps I had laying around=big win! So if this highly-specialized type of item is on your wish list, head over to A Sparkly Baby and pick up the pattern!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Pink Twill Kelly Anorak

If you follow me on Instagram you may be wondering what happened to this jacket, if I had set it on fire the way I had threatened many times. I did not destroy it, despite many problems during construction I did finish it, just before I went on vacation.

I had hoped to take some stunning photos with it at Niagara Falls (you can see it was a part of my capsule wardrobe) was too hot! I had expected at least one day of rainy weather, but we were blessed with sunshine and warm temps the whole time. But this past week we were finally hit with some rain at home, so I was able to give it a proper test run.

In case you didn't know, this is the Kelly Anorak by Closet Case Patterns. It is an unlined jacket featuring bellows patch pockets, snap and zipper closure, cuffs with snaps, and an optional hood. Waistline elastic with a drawstring is also optional. I went with the hood, and added elastic only on the back of the jacket. I hate drawstrings so I left that off.

Sizing is from 0-20. I always get intimidated by jacket patterns that include such a wide range. Often, shopping for RTW jackets is as "simple" as choosing Small, Medium, or Large, so to me, it feels weird to break the sizing down into such narrow increments. My whole life, I've been a small, but my measurements (34-29-38) put me at a 6-10-10 (clearly a medium, right?). After a (delusional) muslin of a straight 6, I ended up cutting a 6 for the sleeves, bust, and length, but grading out to a 10 in the hips. Sizing is pretty spot on, if you follow the chart and get over any hang ups about what the numbers "mean".

The fabric I chose is cotton twill from Organic Cotton Plus (sent to me for free in exchange for a review, affiliate link). I used another color way previously to make a Victoria Blazer, so I knew the quality would be amazing. I was not disappointed, of all the issues I had the fabric was never a problem. It behaved beautifully. I've even used the scraps from before to line my Portside Duffle. This is a versatile fabric that would also work great for pants. The pink is a bit see-through, in that I can see my dark clothing through it, but it's not like I'd use twill for a shirt anyway! Just keep that in mind if it's something that might bother you.

So what were the problems you ask?
  • The yardage requirement for the interfacing is incorrect (too little)
  • There was also no width given for the interfacing requirements
  • The cut diagram for the interfacing is incorrect
  • The zipper facings are drafted super wide and flap around when completed
  • In the directions and online tutorial for the zipper, the pull is on the right-hand size of the zipper (when looking at it while it is facing up). My zipper, purchased from a supplier on Amazon, has the zipper pull on the opposite side. I'm not the first blogger to say she had trouble with this step, and in my case it meant I ended up completely unpicking topstitching and the facing on one side of my zipper because I put it in backwards.
  • The placket piece was drafted too short and did not match the bodice
  • The amount of snaps needed is incorrect (pattern says 12, the jackets on the models have 14, I used 13)

Aside from all these problems with the pattern itself, stupid little things kept happening. I waited two weeks for a zipper from Pacific Trimming, which ended up being out of stock, yet nobody called to tell me so. I had to contact the store, was treated very poorly, and left with no option other than canceling the order. I ordered a new zipper from ZipperStop via Amazon and was sent the wrong size (they, however, responded quickly to my issue and sent me a new one ASAP). I started off with Coats & Clark thread because it saved me a trip to Jo-Ann's, but the thread sucked and caused me to need to recut a piece. My denim needle didn't work well and I ended up needing a topstitching one for all construction. I didn't have enough interfacing (see above) and used some older stuff I had on hand, which wasn't ideal. I finished my first bellows pocket and immediately got black ink on it.

Given all of the above, this was a super tough sew for me. Sewing is supposed to be fun. I'm not saying it has to be easy, but when you pay $20+ for a pattern you expect that it will not waste your time. Honestly, I can't recommend this pattern, and I'm pretty put off from anything else from Closet Case Patterns. I previously had a rough go of it with the Bombshell Swimsuit and I just don't feel like dealing with these designs any longer.

PHEW. With that off my are the rest of the details. I finished as many seams as possible with flat-felled seams. In some places, I used bias tape to finish instead, and I used the same finish on the hem.

I love the way the bright pink pops along the hood seams. I also added a bias tape loop for hanging.

The snaps are 12mm "spring button snaps" in silver, to match the zipper. To set the snaps, I also ordered a snap setter kit. CCP has a tutorial on her blog. I've worked with a large variety of snaps, and different methods for setting, and these were by far some of the easiest. I still needed to be precise and careful, and setting 13 pairs of snaps was very time-consuming, but I'd rather work with these again over, say, sewing them in by hand! The one thing that would have made it easier is a fabric punch. I had to use an awl and it wasn't making large enough holes for inserting the snap prongs.

My husband poked fun at me for making a jacket in May/June rather than earlier in the spring, but it was actually a good thing. I finished it, set it aside, and tried to forget all our troubles together. I don't have any jackets like this in my closet and I know I'll wear it a lot. It worked well in the rain and the hood was nice and roomy. There is a small chance I would make another one, but let's be honest, "oh pretty!" will strike at some point with another pattern.

One last note...I did purchase some Otter Wax to use with this jacket, but it will be getting its own post later!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Laundry Day Tank Tops

Awesome sale on A Sewist's Notebook right now! Save 10% AND free shipping! Use code BOOKSHIP17 at checkout. Ends tonight!

Is there anything more satisfying than using up large scraps, AND finding a TNT all at the same time?

I've been in need of some new tank tops this summer. I have a ton already, but most of them are close-fitting. I'm still working on that post-three-babies-belly-pooch and don't feel as comfortable or confident in those kinds of tanks. (Side note for anybody who isn't a mom...did you know your stomach muscles actually separate during pregnancy? Fun! Diastasis recti...Google it...meanwhile I'm doing exercises trying to bring them back together.)

A few months ago I made a Love Notions Laundry Day Tee (free code in the Facebook group!) and ended up wearing it a ton. I decided to try the tank version, since I knew it would give me extra volume around the waist and hide my belly. I did think that my tshirt was a bit large, so I sized down for the tank, to an XS, and I love the way it looks! I love it so much I made two.

The LDT works best in lightweight, drapey knits like rayon jersey, which is what both of these are. The white (from Urban Rag Trader on Etsy) was previously used for, you guessed it, my Laundry Day Tee! The blue stripe (from Raspberry Creek on Etsy) was used for a Hey June Santa Fe. I was so happy that I had enough yardage left to cut these tanks, because rayon knits are kind of my jam right now.

I also like how the shoulders are cut. They're more narrow than my other tank patterns (in fact, I thought I had cut incorrectly at first) and I think it's more feminine and flattering. These are a quick cut and sew, especially if you're like me and don't hem!

This is my "is it going to rain?" face...and the answer was yes!

What tank pattern are you digging right now? Anyone else obsessed with rayon knits like I am?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Capsule Travel Wardrobe

Hi everyone! I'm back from my much-needed vacation and today I'm sharing my travel capsule wardrobe. I am a classic over-packer, but for this trip space was a concern and I HAD to get my packing under control. I turned to Pinterest for help and came across this great guide using the 5-4-3-2-1 system. I started there, but ended up varying from the formula.

Union St. Tee // Target athletic tee // camp tee
Plantain tee // Reebok athletic shirt
Sloomb wool leggings // Jamie Jeans // Madewell jeans // Old Navy shorts
Chico's sweater dress // Anthropologie cardi // Kelly Anorak
Tommy Hilfiger aviators // Sloomb armwoolies // Sloomb wool scarf
Converse slip on shoes // Ryka tennis shoes

The first step was to evaluate exactly what I needed. My typical strategy has been "pack stuff I like" and that's less than helpful. We were gone roughly a week, driving, and were headed to Niagara Falls and a summer camp in Ontario. My needs were comfort for travel days, athletic wear for camp days, and one nice-ish outfit for our touristy day in Niagara. The trickiest bit for me was the weather. The summer camp was a group event, and I was warned by Canadian members of the group that it could either be sunny and beautiful, or cold, rainy, and windy. They cautioned me to pack long pants and long sleeves despite the forecast of low to mid-seventies temperatures (tank top weather for me!). I ended up listening to their advice and regretting it! It was quite a bit warmer than expected during the day, and I only packed one pair of shorts. I wore that same pair basically every day and didn't even touch my jeans! So let's call this a capsule wardrobe for mid-May rather than mid-June ;)

My favorite thing about this capsule collection is the color scheme. It's mostly black and grey, which meant everything went with everything. For example, I wore the grey sweater dress with my wool leggings the morning we took the boat ride in Niagara Falls.

The poncho they provided covered my top half, but my legs were nice and cozy in my leggings and stayed dry. When it warmed up later, I simply removed the leggings and still had a complete outfit. If it had been cool or rainy I could have thrown on my Kelly Anorak, my only piece with significant color.

The shorts, leggings, and one pair of jeans I brought were all black, and with one exception all my tshirts were grey with black accents. Toss the grey cardigan on top for cool mornings, and the textured of the cardigan still worked with the whole outfit without making me into a grey blob. If I had needed them, the navy jeans would have worked with any top. I also kept my accessories in the black/grey family, although it was warm enough that I didn't need a scarf or armwoolies. Even my shoes were black and grey! My aviator glasses were casual and went with everything.

We had a great trip, in no small part because I never had to worry about what to wear. Sometimes fewer choices can be freeing. The kids had one outfit for each day, bagged in a Ziploc and labeled with the day. They were actually excited to get up and ask for their "Friday" or "Saturday" bags! Much more excited than when I offer their entire closet and ask what they want. On this trip, I learned that less is more, and that you don't have to do anything fancy as long as you love the people who go along for the ride.

Have you tried capsule wardrobes for travel? This was a great way to get my feet wet with the idea of capsule wardrobes. I'm currently reading The Curated Closet and can't wait to pare down my whole wardrobe to things I love.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Kids' Duffle Bags

I've mentioned my upcoming vacation a couple times, and today I'm sharing a last-minute project perfect for summer trips! I spent weeks constructing my own Portside Duffle, only to realize that my kids don't have anything similar. Since adding a third child into the mix, we've only done a single overnight away from home. Our vacation will be nearly a week, which meant each child needed a bag of her own. No way it was all going to fit into my bag!

I searched Pinterest for a free, quick pattern and ended up finding a tutorial here. Cheap was the name of the game, so I used as much stash material as possible. I found that the tutorial was a little off in fabric estimation, a full yard of 44" wide fabric is what I needed. So far I only have one bag done, the other two are a few steps away from completion.

I used zippers from my stash which appear to be separating sport zippers. Two of them are longer than the tutorial stated, but there are directions for making adjustments. The only thing I purchased was the webbing, from Jo-Ann's.

These bags are highly unstructured and do not contain interfacing. There is a facing for the zipper but no lining. They're basically only going to hold clothing and a toothbrush, perhaps an extra pair of shoes, so I didn't need anything heavy duty. The bags are a pretty quick sew, the longest step was figuring out how to cut out the circles for the ends (hint, I found a plate)!

We leave on our trip next week! Guess I'd better finish up the other two bags...