Thursday, April 27, 2017

Me Made May 2017

What a great time in the sewing world! Fashion Revolution Week is leading us right up to Me Made May. If you haven't spent a small portion of this week thinking about garment manufacturing, I encourage you to do so now!

Many years ago, shortly after I started sewing, I read the book Overdressed (reviewed on my blog here) which is about fast fashion and the real cost of cheap clothes. Some time after that, I read Women in Clothes (review here), which contains short stories, poems, and essays from women about their clothing. There was one essay that stuck with me. It was the story of the Rana Plaza collapse, as told from one of the survivors.

She was trapped in the building for days on end, watching coworkers die around her, hearing the sounds and screams of injured people, and all for what? So Americans could have a closet full of cheap clothes that they don't even wear? Her words were haunting, and if the amount of participants in Fashion Revolution is any indication, many others have been impacted as well.

I'm not innocent when it comes to avoiding fast fashion, but stories like these continually push me to do what I can. My biggest stumbling block is buying RTW for my kids. I have three of them, and it's way too easy to fill up a cart at Old Navy and have a bunch of things arrive on my doorstep. This spring/summer, I'm committing to buying second-hand as much as possible, and to selling or donating what doesn't work for us.

I also pledge to research RTW companies when I do happen to purchase new clothing. A simple Google search gave me a great link with 35 ethical fashion brands. It's extremely rare that I purchase a new item of clothing for myself, but socks, bras, and underwear are my typical buys. There are plenty of companies making these things responsibly, if only I'm willing to look.

Finally, I reduce my own footprint by sewing my own clothes (obviously). I am SO EXCITED about this year's Me Made May...can you long-time readers guess why?


May 2016

May 2015

Two years running, I've been preggo for MMM, even delivering a baby one of those years! I am thrilled to be putting my regular clothes to work this May instead of a half-assed wardrobe of maternity wear. To make my challenge a bit more difficult this year, I'm not going to count undies or bras as my single me-made item. So without further ado...

 'I, Beth Byrge of 110 Creations, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I endeavour to wear one handmade item, excluding undergarments, and without repeats, each day for the duration of May 2017.'

Wish me luck and follow along for daily outfits on Instagram! You can read more about Fashion Revolution here, or Me Made May here.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pinterest Inspired Union St. Tee

Wardrobe planning is one of my favorite pastimes. I love clothes and I love sewing, but I'm not always the best at styling or putting outfits together. Pinterest is indispensable to me when it comes to that kind of thing. I'm very visual and I often need to see an outfit to "get" it. No matter what kind of outfits I browse, it seems like there is one wardrobe staple that shows up regularly: the black and white striped t-shirt.

Hey June Union St. Tee
How many striped tees do you see?

I'm not quite sure how it's possible, but I did not own one of these shirts! I've been keeping my eye out for just the right fabric and finally found what I wanted at Urban Rag Trader on Etsy. This lightweight jersey is actually a deep navy and white stripe, and the small scale stripe is perfect.

Hey June Union St. Tee

This was sort of a back-burner project because I didn't know what pattern I wanted to use. I was thinking Renfrew, but didn't want to mess with bands. Then I remembered that I have the Hey June Union St. Tee, the world's most basic t-shirt pattern (how could I forget?). I made one previously, but it was a thick sweatshirt. I carefully studied the photos on the Hey June website and found one version that was a size up (on Adrianna) and had the slouchy look I wanted for my tee. She actually had a blog post showing the same pattern in three different sizes on her, which was helpful.

Hey June Union St. Tee
I interfaced the point of the V before adding the band

I decided that I did want the bust to fit, so I started with a Small and added a random amount of width through the waist and down to the hem. It's probably close to a Medium. To keep the shirt feminine I made the V-neck. The pattern had options for a thick neckband or a thin one, this is the thick. I think it's kind of different and makes the shirt a little more interesting. I used a black cotton/Lycra for the band.

Hey June Union St. Tee

Hey June Union St. Tee

I am absolutely in love with how this turned out! The jersey is well-suited to the pattern (I think it might be a rayon blend), the extra volume I added hides my mommy tummy but without making me look pregnant. I initially wore this out to dinner for my husband's birthday, and then again the next day for a picnic and geocaching at the park. It worked in both settings!

Hey June Union St. Tee
Action and sweaty geocaching

To dinner, I wore it with skinny jeans, but here I'm wearing it with a pair of army green shorts that used to be capris. Cargo capris, to be exact. They were hideous and unflattering and I've had them for a gazillion years, but I couldn't make myself throw them away. I'm so glad I hung onto them, because cut and hemmed they make great shorts! 

Hey June Union St. Tee

I'm now eyeballing every one yard cut of jersey that's hanging out in my stash and plotting more t-shirts. Have you tried this pattern? I can't believe I waited so long to properly use it!

Update July 2017: This post contains affiliate links. Text of the original post remains the same!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Linen and Leather Portside Duffle

Wowza this is a big day! My Portside Duffle is complete!

Grainline Studios Portside Duffle
FYI, it's stuffed with a giant pillow!

I've had this pattern for quite a while, I won it as part of the Fabric Mart Fabricista competition close to three years ago. In June we'll be taking a family vacation, and I didn't have anything suitable to pack my stuff. In the last four years we haven't done anything more than a single overnight with family. The Portside should do nicely for the roughly one-week trip (more on the capsule wardrobe planning later).

Grainline Studios Portside Duffle

This is a fairly simple pattern, but I set about making it about three times more difficult. I've always loved Andrea's version at Four Square Walls, so I decided to use faux leather (from Girl Charlee, had it for ages) and basically copy her. Trying to stick with stash fabric as much as possible, I also grabbed a lightweight striped linen that I got from a relative. The lining is a fabulous twill, leftover from a review I did for Organic Cotton Plus. The twill leant the body I needed but couldn't get from the linen. Interfacing was a medium weight fusible from my stash. Not so sure about the combination of linen and leather? Check out this J. Crew version, which costs a mere $495!

Since the fabric and pattern were all stash, I splurged a bit on hardware. As-drafted, the pattern calls for zippers, D-rings and sliders, and swivel hooks. I added rivets, snaps, and feet. All my hardware was bought online at Hardware Elf (a supplier I found somewhat at random via a comment on Andrea's blog), with the exception of the magnetic snap, which was from Jo-Ann's, and the zippers on this bag, which were stash.

Strap webbing was purchased from AGraffSupplies on Etsy, via a recommendation on Lauren Taylor's blog. I purchased zippers for the Dopp kit and the zippered pouch (pictured above), but haven't made them yet.

As I mentioned, I changed a lot of things!

Added feet
Added rivets
Constructed my own handles
Purchased 1" strapping instead of 1 1/4" (sliders, D-rings, and hooks are 1")
Added a magnetic snap to one of the outer pockets
Added interior patch pockets
Added interior zippered pocket
Added interior elasticized pockets
Added a label
Added pull tabs
Made a removable bottom
Interfaced lining instead of outer fabric (since it was leather)

Phew! I ended up printing the directions and making copious amounts of notes between steps to accommodate my changes. I've never made a bag of this level and I ran through the process over and over to make sure I wasn't missing anything. I also labeled my pattern pieces "leather" and "linen" because they're a little confusing as-is. They simply say "self" and "contrast" and it wasn't clear which was which (hint: it's the opposite of what you think).

The handles and pull tabs (near the zipper) are made from 4 1/2" strips of faux leather tri-folded and stitched down on both vertical sides, for a final width of 1 1/2". I opted for leather straps instead of webbing, I just thought it looked nicer.

Grainline Studios Portside Duffle

For the three types of interior pockets, I used tutorials I found on Pinterest (patch, zippered, elastic). The removable bottom didn't need much of a tutorial, it's just two additional pieces of the bottom sewn together with this heavy weight fusible in between. The feet are screw-in and required quite a bit of reinforcement as the length of my screws was a bit long. I used a second piece of fabric, with interfacing applied, as a sort of underlining to the bottom of the bag. Sandwiched between this "underlining" and the exterior bottom bag were some scraps of felted wool, to get the distance correct. The lining inside the bag covers all this construction.

I did something similar for the rivets, except that I needed to purchase a rivet-setting tool to install them. I bought this one on Amazon.

I also had to reinforce the area behind the magnetic snap. First, I interfaced it, then added more of the felted wool to get the thickness right.

The backing on the male end is covered by the bag lining. The backing on the female end is hidden because I lined that pocket, rather than simply turning down the edge and hemming per the instructions.

Pocket with snap

Hemmed pocket

A few times, I leaned on the Portside Duffle sewalong at Sew News, particularly for the end steps. For the life of me, I could not figure out how to sew the bottom to the bag. Maybe to a bag maker it would be old-hat, but I'm not a bag maker, so I needed the help. I also used the sewalong for assembling the strap, since many reviewers said that they didn't understand Grainline's directions at all.

Grainline Studios Portside Duffle

The faux leather was a huge PITA. Did I mention it's faux STRETCH leather? I cut all the pieces on the crossgrain for more stability, but I still couldn't press it or make it hold still. I ended up using quite a bit of Wash-a-way tape to force it to behave. I had to tape the bottom of my presser foot to get it to move at all on the machine. The linen also had a tendency to grow.

I had planned to use my vintage Singer sewing machine for this project, but I ended up breaking a brand new needle right before starting and thought I'd start with my Brother and switch later. Later never came. I *thought* my Brother (CS-6000i) was handling the project surprisingly well, but now that it's done, I think I might have screwed it up a bit. It's pulling left, something it's always done to some extent, but it's more exaggerated now. I did abuse it quite a bit with the stupid, sticky stretch leather. I have a new presser foot on order (mine has deep grooves on the bottom which seem to be from the feed dogs?) which hopefully will help, otherwise I have to decide about putting money into servicing it, or looking to finally upgrade from this beginner machine (which, no, does not do embroidery, hence the wonky first-grader type writing you see on my label below).

Between the huge amounts of interfacing, the faux leather struggles, the hardware setting, and all my other changes, it took probably close to two months to finish this bag. We also dealt with a crap ton of illness right in the middle. I was glad I'd taken such good notes on my steps, because I forgot them all when I was sick. Speaking of sick, I'm now tired of this thing and will likely be scrambling to finish the Dopp kit and zippered pouch right before the trip.

Grainline Studios Portside Duffle

Despite my current never-want-to-see-it-again feelings, I must admit I love the thing. The bag is sturdy, large, and I don't think it looks homemade at all. If you saw my IG story a week or so ago, then you know a certain five year old put it through a rigorous stress test. I can't wait to pack it full of me-made clothes and take it on our trip this summer!

I received the pattern for free from Fabric Mart, and the twill lining for free from Organic Cotton Plus in exchange for a previous review. This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Bamboo Jersey Romper

I don't know who is responsible for the comeback of the romper/jumpsuit, but I'm fairly certain it must be a mom. Easy dressing+practicality=win. I've been pregnant the last two summers and I'm SO happy to finally be able to wear rompers again!

I recently decided to treat myself to some luxurious bamboo/spandex knit (from The Fabric Fairy) specifically for making McCall's 7099. I loved the wrap front and the options for long or short pant length. Plus, pockets!

I would not normally wear these shoes, I think the romper is just a bit too fancy for Chucks, but my backyard is currently in the stage of spring known as All Mud All the Time.

The bamboo knit does get wrinkly, as you can see here after a day of wear. But honestly, if I don't have snot or spit up on my clothes, I call it a win. I've had a lot of knits come my way before, many bad, most mediocre, a few amazing. I would say this falls into the latter category. If you need a good bamboo knit, run off to The Fabric Fairy and snag some (there are lots of colors).

Fit notes:

I was so crazy about this bamboo knit that I actually made a muslin *gasp* of the pattern. Okay, I didn't go too crazy, since I only muslined the top. I'm glad I did. I made a size 6, which is the smallest in the envelope, but McCall's has always run large for me. I ended up removing a wedge from the front bodice, basically from the shoulder to the waist, which you can see here on my altered pattern piece:

I was paying so much attention to the front that I didn't notice how the back was also a bit too big. After making the romper I did go back and alter my pattern for future versions, by removing width from the middle of the shoulder to the waist. I didn't want to mess with the armscythe or side seam.

If I had muslined the shorts I would have seen that they're a bit too wide for my tastes, so I added that alteration to the pattern as well. One note...make these changes to the paper pattern as soon as you're done sewing! I made this over a month ago and to write this post I'm going off my notes in A Sewist's Notebook. It's that easy to forget everything you've done!

My final concern was the waist. Garments with a waist seam always worry me, since I tend to be long-waisted. I cut extra long seam allowances on the top of the shorts and the bottom of the bodice, but it ended up I didn't need them at all. So take note of that if you're short-waisted.


I did not have matching cone thread, as this isn't a color I wear regularly, so I ended up blind-stretch-hemming on my regular sewing machine. It's not my favorite (and boy was it difficult with this fabric!) but it's better than a zig-zag stitch. You can see on the inside that it's kind of a hot mess. It is, however, a super stretchy stitch, so it works for me.

The armholes are finished by turning under and hemming. Not the best, but I can live with it. The rest of the romper was constructed on my serger. You can see a bit of pulling along the neckline band where I didn't stretch evenly, but other than that my serger behaved well with this project.

I did have an issue with the back of the band. It's actually two pieces which dip into a nice V. The pattern has you just sew the points to a dot. I found this difficult, given that the back bodice is also gathered.

Either I should have gathered each side separately, or I should have basted the two band pieces together and then treated them as one. It doesn't look very pretty but my hair probably covers it most of the time anyway.

Boring construction stuff aside, this romper is amazing. The bamboo is so soft and the weight is just perfect, not too thick and not sheer. I do find that the wrap can gape a bit, so I wear a cami with it. You could also sew a snap...actually, now that I think about it, maybe the pattern gave instructions for adding a snap.

One last outtake photo to show you, rompers can withstand anything you throw at them, including gusty spring winds.

Grab a copy of A Sewist's Notebook, A Sewist's Swatch Book, or A Sewist's Notebook for Kids for 10% off AND free shipping! Use code SHIPSAVE17 at checkout. Offer ends April 7th.

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