Category Archives: Sewing

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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Playing around

My mom’s coat is almost done—just needs buttons and the hem finished—so I took some time to play around. I had pre-washed this stripey end of heavy French Terry back before Christmas, thinking of a Paprika Patterns Jasper sweater-dress. But time was at a premium and then I realized that stripes plus princess seams could, um, be a little bit of a headache. Plus I was not at all sure I’d have enough fabric.

Fast forward to that post-coat high and I really just wanted a quick project. I decided to attempt a shape not too different from my last sweater dress, based off my knit sloper—kind of an exaggerated pear shape that I’m finding fun at the moment. And if I had enough fabric left over, I could morph a Jasper hood onto it.

I took my knit sloper, added a bit of ease since the fabric is not overly stretchy, and traced out a fantastical side seam with hip bubble right onto my fabric.

Spoiler alert: I had enough fabric. Barely. This knit was tube knitted, which is great for optimizing your cutting layout, but the grain of the knit is at a distinct angle to the stripes, which made stripe matching an iffy and uncertain prospect. Frankly I was kinda expecting the sleeves to corkscrew around on my arms. Which they don’t seem to be doing, so I’ll call that a win.

Anyway. What I’m basically doing is excusing my lackadaisical attempt to get my stripes to line up. Sorry not sorry?

I also didn’t do any fun stripe-playing, partly out of concern for stretch issues but mainly from lack of fabric. It would’ve been pretty cool to cut the hood frame with the stripes running vertical, though. Oh well.

I forgot the pockets when I first sewed up the body, so I had to go in and retrofit them in, but it was worth it because a) pockets, and b) they kinda support the weird hip shape. There’s a strip of fusi-knit where each pocket piece is sewn on.

So, um, basically this is another in my attempt to create an entire wardrobe of sweater-weight cozies. Maybe this urge will fade… maybe by May?

At least this one isn’t grey.


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Hey, mom…

I’m making you a coat. It’s a shop project so it has to be done in a couple of weeks. So you should really pop by.

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