Bunny hugging

In recoil from the Grad Dress Making, I took out a quick hoodie project. Around here, those are called bunnyhugs.

Actually, my co-worker Jacque had dibsed this fabric for a project for her husband weeks ago, but then he didn’t like it. I jumped on it so fast when she “surrendered” it! You can only see it in the closeups but it’s got this teeny grey pinstripe, which makes it infinitely more interesting than our usual solid black.

Also cat hair, but if you wanted impeccable pictures you sure wouldn’t be reading this blog.

The pattern is McCall’s M6614, which I’ve actually kinda liked for a really long time. I mashed up a couple of different versions as I wanted the princess seams combined with the front zip.

And the lace on the sleeve. That’s a really cute touch.

I made a size S grading to an M at the hip. I wound up raising the underarm seam by close to 1.5″ during construction (my favourite thing about raglan sleeves is how easy this is to do), and I also tweaked the back princess seams to reduce some bagginess there—probably I should’ve done a swayback adjustment instead but anyway. Other than that I only added some length to the sleeves. If I did it again I’d probably add a bit more width at the hip, believe it or not. It’s pretty fitted there.

I like the shaped shirt-tail hem, too.

I added a bit of a point to the hood for that Assassin’s Creed vibe, but I’m not sure it really works. This basic hood is a decent size but not nearly as fun as the Jasper hood. The pockets are inserted into the front princess seam, which is a nice location but limits their size.

One more thing I’m going to brag about—I used twill-tape on the inside of the neck to cover the seam there and for once it went down super nicely! (The white is wash-away stabilizer that helped me stitch the lace on to the sleeve—I’ll wash it away after this thing is done being a project on show.)

The jeggings are ones I made a long time ago, but I made the waistband elastic stupidly tight. Today I took that off, added a big ol’ fold-over-jersey waistband, and repaired a bunch of popped topstitching. I’m much more excited about them than I’ve ever been.

You know, I’ve been meaning to sew myself a black, raglan sleeve bunnyhug since my niece borrowed my last one in about 2011 and didn’t give it back for five years. Well, better late than never?



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Grand Finale

Have I mentioned Tyo is graduating high school this year?

I’m not usually an anxious parent. I didn’t agonize over sending my babies to daycare, or cry at the first day of kindergarten.

But this one is really getting to me. It feels like my job as a parent is almost done.

I know it’s not, really. Heck, if she has her way, Tyo might not move out for another ten years. But in a few more months she’ll be officially, legally, an adult. The world opens up, and it’s freaking terrifying. Before, there was always a next time, always a do-over. The do-overs are done.

Mind. Blown.

Also she asked me to make her grad dress.

Ok so maybe not so much asked as assumed.

It was also a wise choice, as I can’t afford the $800 dress she fell in love with at the fancy dress shop—but we can put her favourite elements into the dress that we make. Well, some of them. Not all that insane beadwork.

After some dizzying trying on at one of the fancier local dress shops, not to mention some heavy-duty pinteresting, and a bunch of style sketching that didn’t seem to catch her imagination, I finally got Tyo to just come to the fabric store where I work and pick fabric. The much more limited local selection really helped her focus and narrow down what she wanted, and I think we were both really excited by what she ended up going for: navy, a short satin under-dress with a long, full, removable lace skirt over top.

We settled on McCall’s M7281, as a contemporary pattern with the right lines, despite the not-very-inspiring envelope.

The Under-Dress

And despite my fears, the muslin process went quite well. Her measurements put her in the size 10 for bust and waist, size 14 for hips. Grown into the pear shape we have been predicting for her! And the sizing was true enough with only minor taking in. We initially muslined the straight skirt—she wanted a slightly flared skirt, but not as full as the one that came with the pattern. I planned to follow Gertie’s old tutorial for converting a pencil skirt style into a gently flared skirt.

So in the end I made minor tweaks to the bodice, some more major ones to the skirt (mostly to do with hip curve), and converted it from the straight original shape to the cute little flared skirt above.

Which makes it approximately the same shape as every other cute little dress she owns.

Did I mention we included pockets?

Apparently this feature is causing quite a bit of jealousy among her classmates.

The one thing she REALLY loved from her favourite of the store dresses (up above) was a corset-laced back.

It took a bit of mental rehearsing, but I eventually managed something not too dissimilar.

The dress has an inner corselet made of ticking, with metal boning. I used the original straight skirt pieces to draft a princess-seamed, hip-length pattern for it.

My biggest screw-up is that I didn’t choose to underline my bodice fabric. I thought with the dark fabric and corselet it wouldn’t be necessary. But the bodice could definitely have used a bit more support and smoothness in the outer layer. However, it’s not bothering Tyo, so please don’t point it out to her.

After some consultation, we added halter straps. They’re not, strictly speaking, functional, as the boning holds the bodice up just fine, but they definitely make her more comfortable—and they’re pretty. This crêpe back satin makes lovely soft bows. And yes, I forgot to attach them before sewing on the lining so I had to rip and insert.

The overskirt:

Once the base dress was nearly done I started on the lace over skirt.

Tyo was really excited by the idea of having the lace skirt removable. I’m trying really hard not to tell her how much this reminds me of the Teen Sweetheart Skipper doll I had in the 80s with the removable overskirt that could be worn three different ways.

Man I loved that doll. I think she perished in the Great Barbie Massacre of 2003, when I thought it would be a good idea to give the three-year-old Tyo all my old barbies. All of the heads were broken off within two weeks.

Anyway, Skipper aside, I was kind of dreading making the overskirt. The design plan was simple—gather the lace onto a straight waistband, close with hooks and cover the join with a bow. In practice, I was really dreading gathering all that lace.

I shouldn’t have been so worried. I used the zig-zag-over-heavy-thread method, which is interesting in mesh because the zig-zag basically shrinks around the centre thread into a fine line, and then it does very little shifting around on its own when you gather it. Also the fine mesh isn’t as bulky as most things, so even with something like four mètres of lace gathered onto a 26″ band it was remarkably well-behaved.

the waistband is just an interfaced rectangle I gathered the netting on to. We discussed adding another layer of tulle for poof but she says she likes it as is. The waistband closes with some skirt hooks and then a soft, droopy bow covers the attachment. We will have to cut slits in the overskirt so she can access the pockets. Also I’m pretty sure at some point during the night she’ll wear it as a cape.

The lace:

ok, I’m giving this its own section because I’m freakin proud of myself.

Tyo had one other request, which was to add a bit of lace to the hem of the short skirt’s lining, to make the basic dress a little less plain. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough of the wide lace to cut off 1.5m for the lining, and while we did have a sizable piece cut off from the upper selvedge of the lace, it had only a rudimentary, ugly really, scalloped edge.

Fortunately, I was feeling obsessive on a Saturday night, and set to work messing around with the space piece, some wash away stabilizer, and my machine’s fancy stitches.

Some key points:

  1. a hoop was useful but not essential, which is good because constantly repositioning it would’ve taken forever
  2. It works better to NOT work along the edge of your fabric. Much easier to guide things down the middle. Fortunately my remnant of lace was about twice as wide as I needed it to be.
  3. Baste your stabilizer in place, and then draw the outline of your scallop right on the stabilizer.

This took kinda forever, but was also weirdly fun, and saved me buying 1.5 more mètres of fancy 60″ wide lace just to use the bottom 3″ of it.

So this kid, though

This is done as another shop project, so we had to get to it early so it could go on display. It does feel good to have it done, though, as long as she doesn’t lose weight in the next three months. It also feels good to see how happy she is with it.

And now we can tackle the hard part—finding the right shoes!


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Slate Jasper (a very delayed post)

(Most of this post was written in early 2016 when I made this Jasper. But I couldn’t seem to get it photographed. Today I happened to be wearing it (which I do nearly weekly in the winter) and since my new(ish) hallway is perfect for snapping really quick photos, I actually managed to take some!)

I think I bought the Paprika Patterns Jasper Sweater/Dress pattern the day it came out. Seriously, I’ve been reading Lisa’s blog since she was first playing around with this hood design in 2011 or something. I even started to draft up a version of the hood pattern based on her early tutorial. I didn’t get around to testing that version, as I’m easily distracted, but you get the idea how much I liked it. I even bought this fabric over a year ago*. (*2015)

So why did it take me so long to make up? I honestly have no clue except that I’ve been having a hard time with PDF patterns the last year or two. It’s probably more mental than anything else, but the paper patterns have been getting sewn while the PDFs just languish. Having my printer on the fritz for a large chunk of last year didn’t help either…

Anyway, nothing like a holiday to get you over a hump like that. In the wake of Xmas, I finally got myself motivated to tape the pieces together and make it up. Mainly on New Year’s Eve.

My measurements put me squarely in the size 3, which was lovely, but the pattern indicated it was drafted with 2.5″ ease at the bust but only 1″ at the hip. This seemed a bit snug to me, so I cut a size 4 at the hip area. I added about 2″ to the sleeve length (quite modest for me) based on comparison with my sleeve block, but made no other alterations.

I spent an uncommon amount of time (for me) reading the instructions, since I was clueless about both the front pocket construction and the hood construction. They were great although the hood directions lost me a bit. I still got my hood together, so it’s all good, but I won’t swear there weren’t some details I glossed over. She has a tutorial on her site, so probably I should’ve looked at that. Impatient.

Once I got it together (I love how the sleeve goes in!) it was very blousy in the back, so I took a good chunk off those handy rear princess seams.

My new sewing machine let me down, however. It’s really been a trooper, but when it throws a tanty  (best Austrialianism ever. I feel entitled to use Aussie slang now that I’m related to one. My brother took his citizenship down under this past fall. Yay him. Boo for us.)  it throws it. It would not top stitch the pocket welts. Would not, no way no how. This thing has plowed through five layers of tartan wool plus double-layered leather, but it did not like the layer of cotton spandex under all the layers of fleece. Like, five skipped stitches for every one that took. Next time I will try moving the needle to the side, and maybe also paper underneath.

Once I got through that part, though, things were gloriously breezy. I finished it in time to wear to New Years at my mother-in-law’s.

I will add one note: the pocket basically makes a separate tube inside the sweater. If you’re putting it on and find it’s strangely tight, you might be on the wrong side of that tube. I kind of burst a lot of stitching figuring that out.


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The deets—Red Rayon Blouse

After years of ogling, I finally pulled the trigger on Butterick B6217, an adorable Patterns by Gertie blouse. I don’t really do blouses much, despite the odd flirtation. I actually think the last blouse I made was a Burdastyle JJ way back in the mists of time.

The fabric is a rayon twill, and while it is just as soft and fiddly as any rayon, it’s really quite glorious. I love the slightly heavier drape of it.

I was really unsure about the size. The pattern is described as “loose fitting”—not at all what the desired look is, IMO—and the amount of ease is correspondingly huge. On the other hand, I’m a bit bigger than I used to be which is requiring some reassessment about what measurements I should actually look for. But I found a post from someone on Instagram who said their measurements put them in a 14 and they made an 8.

I was a little leery looking at the finished measurements of the 8, so I decided to trace the pattern and muslin, which I almost never do with shop projects. The last time I tried to use an 8 because a pattern was oversized was a total disaster. In the 8 I wasn’t sure I would need my usual length changes, so I made only two alterations: curving in the back seam and squaring the shoulders slightly.

The results weren’t terrible and I probably will finish off that shirt, but it did seem just a little snug all around. So I went back to the size 10. I felt a lot more at home there, and took about 1/2″ of length out at the waist. I kinda wish I’d added it back on at the hem—the overall length is a wee bit short unless you’re tucking it in or wearing it over something high-waisted.

Anyway. The result was pretty good size-wise, I think. Just a tiny bit of taking in here and there. Keep in mind that’s going down two full sizes, given my measurements these days. The back does seem to hang up a bit, so maybe a bit of tweaking there is in order. On the other hand, I don’t have to look at it.

I used a featherweight knit interfacing for the facings, which was a great idea except that then I went and stabilized the main fabric of the neckline with a heavier knit interfacing for absolutely zero stretch, while the facing had a small amount of stretch, which is a recipe for gaping facing. Not bad, but not perfect.

The buttonholes, on the other hand, are perfect. I made them on my modern machine, which does pretty decent buttonholes on fabric like this, and a bit of wash-away stabilizer behind the fabric for insurance and everything was peachy keen.

I do like the pattern a lot—it’s adorable. The bias cut front ties are as much fun as they look. I dealt with the tulip sleeves by the simple method of lining up the underarm seam and sewing up from there, although I did make a bit of effort to make sure the crossover top lined up on both sides. There’s a marking you’re supposed to match but of course I forgot to mark it.

Whether it’ll become a wardrobe staple is another question, but I’m glad I gave it a try. I’d kinda like to make one with a matching skirt, for a summery-dress effect. We’ll see where I land when it stops being -30C for more than a few days.


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The deets—Vinyl look pants

When I first saw this fabric, the sheen made me think of a faux leather, even though it’s basically a dull stretch satin. I kind of have a soft spot for that dull sheen.

I will say, since that first infatuation, my feelings have cooled. Despite its neat appearance, it feels and sews like satin, which is not my fave. Slithery and yet somehow hard. Plus it liked to creep and wrinkle along the long seams, and didn’t like to press

On the other hand, it took the top stitching like gold. That was beautiful. I used a newish-to-me machine, a hand-me-down Elna that a friend insisted I take.

I think I may have found my new favourite topstitching machine. It handled the extra-thick topstitching thread flawlessly, has a speed control, and the weird little bubble foot pedal gives great control. I won’t crown it quite yet—it did struggle and sometimes balk at some of the thicker spots, and this fabric is thinner than most denim—but the signs are good.

The pattern is Burda 6855, a basic skinny-jeans-styled pattern which differs from classic jeans only in having rear darts rather than a yoke. I actually like that feature as it’s easier to adjust fit on the fly, not to mention faster to sew. I used it last year to make two pairs of jeans for a work project I never managed to blog, that are actually the only jeans in my regular wardrobe rotation right now. And I thought it would suit this slightly-fancier-looking fabric.

I actually originally intended to try the high-rise view of the Ginger jeans in honor of #nofearjeansmonth, but I couldn’t quite pull it together to get it printed (my printer is detached in the bottom of the closet at the moment since my husband needed more room on the computer desk for cat beds. Don’t ask.) so I settled for a quick and familiar pattern.

The fit was pretty much as expected though I should have added more height to the back rise—I knew I needed a bit there but even more would’ve been good. I don’t love how this fabric drapes—did I mention that? So I don’t know that this pair is really a successful anything. But they’re not terrible, and I enjoyed the process if not the result. Also I bothered to put in rivets, which I haven’t done in ages. I like it. And it’s a lot easier with my new-ish awl for poking the holes.

I still want to try those high-rise Ginger jeans though.


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Good intentions

So I bought this kinda ugly camo knit a year or so ago when the last little bit went on sale real cheap. I thought perhaps one of my kids would like camo leggings.

Well, when I made them up today, my kids agreed with me—about the ugliness. Not so much about the wanting them part. So I guess I now have a pair of ugly camo leggings.

I confess they’re kinda growing on me though. Even though the fabric is the kind where the colour fades as it stretches, it’s silky smooth and feels really nice.

I modified my trusty old Jalie 2920 by adding a slightly shaped double-layered cloth band at the waist rather than elastic, creating a smooth high-rise effect I’m enjoying. Which probably has everything to do with my changing relationship with my body these days, but we won’t dig too deep into that today. Anyway, so I have a new pair of leggings, and I think I like them. They don’t go with anything, though.


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Things not worthy of blogging

Last weekend, whilst procrastinating finishing my mom’s coat, I was kinda on a roll. I made the stripey almost-Jasper, and then moved on to some really quick projects.

A dress for Fyon’s birthday (who is eleven now, somehow), much less impressive but more practical, hopefully, than her present last year. I used Jalie 3349, a ballet leotard pattern, and morphed it into a tent-dress type shape starting about 2″ below the armpit. The only problem is that I decided to do just a half-lining in the upper body, to make the thin fabric a bit more opaque, and it doesn’t always lie flat. Maybe I should’ve done a full lining, but I thought the outer fabric would get caught up on it.

I have no pictures, but I made my husband a pair of knit comfy pants from an old Kwik Sew sweatsuit pattern (2463) I’ve used before for him. This was partly because he needed them, and partly to justify the fabric purchase, which was this incredibly soft mystery knit—I thought it was a rayon but it doesn’t go all cottony in the wash so I guess it’s just a really nice poly—I picked up recently for a price that worked out to $2.50/m. At that price, the ones I made him are still cheaper than the Walmart pair they’re replacing. Which doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t need more fabric.

Which brings us to the other thing I made for myself, another McCall’s 7622. Again to justify a recent fabric purchase. This one is heavier and feels almost woolly, although it doesn’t smell sheepy under steaming so I’m guessing not real wool. It’s pleasantly sweater-y, though.

Not that you can see anything much of it in the photos. Darned black.

Oh, look, there is a photo of my husband in his comfy Kwik Sew pants, because he accidentally wandered through my photos a couple of times.

And that’s about that. I did finish my mom’s coat, by the way. I will blog that soon, though I may not be able to get good photos for a while.


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