Thursday, November 29, 2018

Brunswick Pullover in Lyocell Fleece

I both love and hate when designers sneak peek their newest patterns before release. I'm sure it's a great marketing tool, because who better to convince me I need something than myself, staring at two inches of a photo on IG and obsessing about it? But in this case, it was all worth the wait.

This is the newest pattern from Hey June, the Brunswick Pullover. Poor Adrianna has been fielding my desperate IG DMs for weeks while I've been waiting for this pattern. Like I told her, I need a new sweatshirt like I need a hole in the head, but I'm a sucker for a dolman/drop sleeve.

The Brunswick features a cowl or hood, with or without side button plackets, with or without a kangaroo pocket, and with or without a zippered sleeve pocket. Recommended fabrics are heavier weight knits like fleece, French Terry, or or double knit. It's meant as an outwear piece such as a hoodie (in other words, it's not a shirt).

I had the pattern printed, assembled, traced (I know right), and fabric cut by the end of the day it released. I had the whole thing sewn and finished two days later, including 8 buttonholes and buttons.

Speaking of, the plackets look fancy but are only moderately difficult to sew. You do need to read the directions carefully and be precise in your sewing. I used scraps of olive stretch denim for the plackets. The pattern gives directions for interfacing, but I definitely skipped it because #rebel. I did attempt to interface the area behind the eyelets but it was extremely difficult to fuse to fleece. The interfacing just didn't want to stick. I'm a little scared to wash the hoodie because I'm afraid an eyelet might come loose. Fingers crossed. Drawstring is from Etsy and has been used 80 gazillion times on other projects.

The buttons are vintage and were found in a local alterations shop that also carries fabric and notions. The are 5/8" so a bit smaller than the 3/4" I would have liked, but they work fine. I don't plan on buttoning or unbuttoning them any differently than how they are now. Buttonholes were all sewn using my vintage Singer. My Brother machine would not cooperate with the thick fleece.

The hood is lined but I used the wrong side against my head. It's so snuggly I couldn't help myself!

As you may already know, sourcing high quality fleece, especially with stretch, is darn near impossible. I've never had much luck. But the week before the Brunswick launched, Raspberry Creek Fabrics made all my dreams come true and stocked three colors of Lyocell/organic cotton fleece. It has FOUR WAY stretch and is so soft I want to die. Lyocell is a name brand version of rayon that is supposedly a higher quality than the crappy, pilly rayons of the world. No complaints from me so far, but I've only washed the fabric once because I can't bear to take the hoodie off my body. It is pretty thick and I had much better success sewing with a walking foot, reducing presser foot pressure, or upping the differential feed on my serger.

The fabric was higher in price than I like to spend ($20/yard and you need 2 yards) so that's why I only got olive, and not also the heathered blue and pink. You know I wanted to, especially over Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales! Too bad so sad for you, it's sold out now in all three colors. I did see that Nature's Fabrics is also going to start carrying Lyocell fleece, so fingers crossed that it magically comes at a lower price point.

I sewed a size 4 which is technically down a size from the chart. It's plenty big enough and could possibly even go down one more size (in this particular fabric, which again has lots of stretch), although I need the room at the hips. I didn't grade out because I knew I could just leave the placket undone, but if I make one of the plain side seam versions I'll need to grade the hips out to a 6.

I have to show off this perfect cuff/sleeve matching!

The Brunswick is definitely my go-to for any fleece I find going forward. It may even replace my beloved Goodwill hoodie that I can't seem to quit. You won't regret scooping up this pattern!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Yuzu Raglan Coat

All coat posts are required to start the same way: WOOHOO I MADE A COAT!

I've been wearing the same winter coat for longer than I can remember. In fact, I blogged about mending it way back in 2013. Every year I've known how to sew and haven't made a coat, I've felt guilty. It was an actual NEED in my closet and yet I kept finding myself sewing more sweatshirts. Shameful. This year, I finally got my act together!

This is the Yuzu Raglan Coat by Waffle Patterns, with the free hood add-on. To be honest, the hood is what swayed me to pick this pattern. Maybe it's my imagination, but it seems like coat patterns cost a lot of money and then only offer one view. This pattern offers a curved or straight hem, patch or welt pockets, and a stand-up collar or hood. There is also a newly released ebook called 23+ Pockets that looks like could all be used with any coat pattern.

The fabric is a wool/nylon Melton that I bought from Fabric Mart. I had hoped it would be a lot more green-toned olive than it turned out to be, but it's okay. It's utilitarian and will probably hide dirt well, so, win? The lining is Bemberg rayon from Mood. I. Hate. Bemberg. But it's so goooood in a coat! I think it'll be a nice long while before I sew with it again, though. Additionally, I've noticed that this coat is not warmer than my old one. The old one is lined with a quilted lining. I'll definitely be making my next coat with something similar, instead of rayon.

I'm wearing a scarf underneath...I'm not really that lumpy

I majorly dragged my feet on this project. I waited a month to buy the pattern after I decided on it. I sent it off to PDF Plotting so I wouldn't have to print and assemble it. I measured the scale box incorrectly (it's 10cm NOT 4in) and spent a few days fretting about that. I cut everything but the lining. I took a week to make the two welt pockets. The welts are dramatically different sizes. They were the only part (aside from the sleeves) that gave me trouble, they were constructed in a way different from any other welts I've done before. It didn't help that I sewed one of the pocket bags on upside down.

Eventually, I got to the point where I had the lining and outer assembled and could slip one into the other. That's when I started to get excited about the project. The raglan sleeves were so easy to sew compared to a set-in sleeve. Everything was looking really good. Then I cut 2" off the sleeves. Whoops. As drafted, the sleeves are definitely long. But I should have left them alone. After sewing the pieces together at the sleeve opening, the sleeves were too short. Livable, but too short. I was deflated all over again.

I pulled out my old coat to check the sleeve length on it, to see how badly I'd screwed everything up. I realized that it was finished with a thick cuff. Hey, I could do that! I had plenty of fabric left over.

The cuffs solved two problems. First, the length is now perfect. Second, no matter what I did, I had some twist in the sleeve. I couldn't get the lining to sit properly. I added the cuff individually to each part, and then topstitched them together. That way I could line them up evenly. It's hard to explain, so please ask questions if you have them.

I made a size 34. My bust measurement put me at a 36, but thankfully the finished measurements were included. There was 7" of ease! I decided to size down. The bust fits perfectly now, but I do have some pulling through the hip. I doubt anyone will notice but I think you can see in the photos that below the buttons the coat doesn't come straight down.

Speaking of buttons, they are from Jo-Ann's and they're nuts and I love them. I opted not to add the second row and I also didn't sew snaps into the inside. I used a black fusible interfacing for everything except the front panel. I ran out of interfacing so I used thick cotton flannel instead. 

This was my first time using a design from Waffle Patterns. I would definitely classify this pattern as advanced. I have made three other coats in the past (just not for me!) so this wasn't my first rodeo. That said, there are TONS of diagrams that are very well done. I relied a lot on them, as sometimes I found the wording of the instructions to be confusing. Additionally, the seam allowance appeared to be 1.2cm all over, but LOTS of the pattern pieces said that this was an "exception to indicated". IDK. I sewed everything with a 1.2cm SA. I marked it on my sewing machine with tape since I'm not all that handy with centimeters. I recommend sticking with centimeters when sewing this and ignoring all the "almost equal to" inch directions.

There are many details that elevate the pattern above others, such as pleats in the lining, a blind hand-sewn hem, catchstiching on the facing, and a two-part sleeve. Basically, I'm happy I gave my money to Waffle Patterns and I will happily give them more for another coat next year (Tosti, I'm looking at you...drool...). And now for a photo dump!

The second time I wore this coat out in public I received a compliment on it. I love how it's sort of Lothlorien-esque and unusual. I think the color will grow on me and I'm excited to wear it this winter. As you can see, fall is already over and the snow is here!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Cozy Double Knit Cardigan

A short and sweet project today that's allll about that fabric!

If you watch any of my Instagram stories, you've already seen this a few times because I couldn't shut up about it. I've been wearing it a lot and I'm tempted to order more! The fabric is a double sweater knit in navy/cream. There was another colorway that was predominately white, but it sold out. I saw a project in the white and couldn't resist ordering the navy from Style Maker Fabrics.

The pattern is what I call my "Athro Cardi Knock Off". I drafted it based on a RTW cardigan that was originally from Anthropologie, although I bought it second-hand. I made one version last summer from a lightweight sweater knit (blogged here). I still can't-stop-won't-stop with the original so I figured it was time to add another.

Like with my previous version, I struggled to fit the front pattern pieces onto the fabric since it is drafted VERY wide (no armscythe/sleeve seams at all, and the front is not straight down, see above). But I made it work with two yards. I regret not adding pockets since I find myself wearing my wool Sloomb leggings really often, and without pants pockets I'm stuck just holding my phone.

The texture of the fabric is fun and different from a plain knit cardigan. I did not use the reverse side for a contrast element but that would be easy to do. The color in these close-ups is washed out a bit, but you can see below the reverse side.

The fabric is a cotton/acrylic blend, and although I'm usually Team Death to Acrylic I will make an exception if a fabric doesn't FEEL like acrylic. This one fits the bill nicely. It's warm, but not HOT like 100% acrylic would be. It took well to pressing, didn't get stretched out too much while sewing, and behaved when I hand-sewed the hem.

Basically, get yourself some of this beautiful goodness before it's gone!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Easy Flannel Poncho

This fall, I've attempted to stretch my wardrobe a bit and try some new things. I'm deviating from my old standby colors (navy, grey, black, and pink) and doing a bit of a capsule with olive green and browns. I'm also trying new items like a vest and overalls, along with today's project, a poncho.

This look has been in the back of my mind for a while, since I saw a tutorial on Pinterest (by Merrick via Jo-Ann's). I loved her black and white version and kind of kept my eye out for a suitable flannel. I saw this one at Style Maker Fabrics and I had to have it!

The colors are brown, olive green, white, and gold. Both sides are super pretty and the flannel is thick and soft.

I followed the tutorial pretty much to the letter, so I'm not going to elaborate too much on construction. Basically, it's two yards folded cut end to cut end, with a vertical slit in front. I tried on the poncho as I was working to see how deep I wanted the cut.

I sewed a straight stitch horizontally just above the hems, and I have been carefully removing strands to create fringe. It's time-consuming, so after about an inch of it I took a break and just started wearing the poncho anyway.

I love throwing this on to go outside and play with the kids. It covers whatever I'm wearing and keeps the dirt off of me. It's also great in the car because it's basically like wearing a blanket! But you could easily dress it up with some skinny jeans and heels the way Merrick does in her tutorial. I'm wearing it here with my black merino Union St. Tee and French Terry Hudson Joggers.

This was such a quick, satisfying project that would make a good palate cleanser between more difficult makes!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Wool+Wax Wool Felt Tote

I received fabric in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.  No affiliate links have been used. Thank you OCP!

A few months back, a friend tipped me off to the most beautiful tote bag I'd ever seen...this knitting bag from twig&horn. I LOVED the dark grey wool outer, the mixed media with the leather straps, and the large size to accommodate knitting projects. What I did not love was the $180 price tag. So when Organic Cotton Plus contacted me about a review, I had a vague notion of trying to copy the twig&horn bag. That notion became a reality when I saw their 100% wool felt. Available in small sheets, by the yard, or even in ribbon, I couldn't wait to nab some yardage and make my own tote bag.

I selected Charcoal and the color is perfect. The lining is 100% cotton broadcloth in Pumice, which is a sort of pinky-lilac color. I don't believe I've ever worked with broadcloth before. It reminded me of a high quality muslin, although a bit sheer. Perfect for a contrast bag lining and very easy to sew. For straps, I went with black hemp webbing in a width of 1.5".

I spent a lot of time searching for a pattern that would get me close to my inspiration bag. Being primarily a garment sewist, the only bag designer I knew offhand was Noodlehead (Range Backpack, I'm coming for you someday!). I checked out her website and found the Wool+Wax Tote pattern, which looked pretty darn close. I happened to run across her booklet, Everyday Essentials, when I was ordering some fabric from another shop, and added that to my cart. The Everyday Essentials booklet contains the Wool+Wax Tote pattern, and two additional ones, although you can purchase all the patterns separately as PDFs.

The pattern was very easy to follow. I think I spent as much time cutting and interfacing as I did sewing! I used a universal 80/12 needle and a walking foot. The wool felt has no spandex or stretch but I did find the walking foot fed the layers much better than a regular foot. I used pink thread for a subtle contrast with the topstitching. The only change I made was to add a magnetic closure, and also to add some ultra firm stabilizer (left over from this project) to the bottom.

This project should have been super quick and easy, but I ran into one snag that definitely needs discussed. I chose not to prewash the felt. Here is the description from the website:

Dry clean only - if washed, the wool will have a boiled wool look. It can also shrink depending on how hot the temperature of water is - the hotter it is the more it will shrink.

Based on this info, I thought it would be better not to prewash. I knew I was making a bag and that I could spot-clean it as needed. I have a lot of experience with wool, and when washed they all behave differently. I thought it would be better not to risk it.

My thought process would have been fine EXCEPT that I forgot about interfacing. When I began fusing my outer bag pieces to my interfacing, it shrank (wool+heat+water=shrinkage). It wasn't a lot, but it was enough for me to notice the first piece looked different and to compare it to its identical counterpart.

At that point, I had already cut all my pieces, so I had a decision to make. Prewash my remaining yardage and recut (if possible!), or continue with what I had and trim the lining pieces to match my wool as it shrank. I went with option #2, because the thought of wasting all that fabric really bothered me.

As it turned out, it wasn't a big deal. I interfaced the pieces that required it, and trimmed down the ones that didn't shrink. Since this wasn't a complicated pattern it was easy to know how and when to trim. My finished bag is probably a little smaller than drafted but it works just fine for holding my knitting. 

In conclusion, if you want to work with this wool felt (which you should, because it is awesome!) consider whether or not it will ever be hot/wet/washed DURING the project AND after. 

One other item to note: the hemp webbing felt fairly stiff when it arrived, and the black color is VERY black. I was concerned about it bleeding dye when getting wet even incidentally, like in the rain. I prewashed it by hand in my sink with Synthrapol. Synthrapol is a detergent meant to pull out excess dye from fabric. I've used it with my own dye projects to help reduce bleeding color. I was glad I took this precaution because there was dye bleed, although less than I expected. A bonus side effect was that the webbing came out super soft afterward.

I am such a huge natural fibers junky, and working with the items at Organic Cotton Plus is always a treat. I've never been disappointed with the fabrics I've gotten, and their shipping is crazy fast. Check out all their beautiful fabrics here!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Pinterest-inspired Halifax

You know how sometimes you love something so much, you save it twice on Pinterest? Pretty sure that happened to me with this sweatshirt.

I’ve been wanting to recreate this for some time, but the moment was finally right when I ran across an amazing reverse French terry from LA Finch Fabrics (sold out, sorry!). The loops are on the side with the stripes, rather than the back, giving the front some texture.

I used the Hey June Halifax pattern, the plain view with the cowl neck. I added eyelets to the cowl and a drawstring. Normally, I’m not into drawstrings (they always seem to get lost in the wash) but I think the hardware and the drawstring elevate the look a bit. The eyelets were from my stash and are the Dritz brand. The drawstring cord was purchased on Etsy, it's the gift that keeps on giving as I had 80 gazillion yards.

This is a size small. The fabric doesn’t have much stretch so this is just a bit bigger than a shirt. I can fit a tank top underneath but I’m not sure I’ll try it with a loose T-shirt.

This was a super quick sew since I’ve already made the pattern before. It turned out so much like my inspiration, I love it!

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