Good morning, 2018

I don’t know what you’ll hold except more of the same, which is mostly a good thing. I’d like to make resolutions—get more exercise, eat better, but the fact is I’ll probably just muddle along trying to keep my head above water. If I can keep the fabric stash from growing too much that’d be good. Not out of guilt, but out of the practicality of my sewing space. Also I need to figure out how to fit some more tabletop space down there.

The thing that’s pissing me off the most is a mound of old jeans that need mending/modifying/scrapping. I’d like to make it go away.

Right now I only want to make cozy comfy things. That’s ok and I really do have a fair bit of suitable fabric.

I’m on holiday right now so I wish I were sewing, but my brother and his wife are here from Australia, which hasn’t happened in four years. So we cleaned up the basement suite, including putting a bed in the middle of my sewing room, and handed it over to them. I was threatening to put my machines in the dining room but I didn’t actually do it. So instead of sewing, I’m visiting with them or playing video games with my husband. It’s not a bad way to spend a holiday.



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An (ugly?) Christmas sweater

I drew my aunt in the family Christmas lottery this year. This is my mother’s sister, who is in charge of everything, and who is at a point in her life where, if she wants it, she probably has it already.

She’s also a sewist, so a homemade gift seemed like a doubly good idea, and a sweater seemed even better.

My aunt has a distinct style and tends to wear a lot of black with bright jewel tones. I figured a black or grey sweater with a touch or two of bright colour might be just the thing.

After a considerable amount of stash digging I settled on a piece of the same fabric as my valentines’ outfit from last year. The marled grey cotton may not be the softest thing ever but it does look great.

Some more pattern digging turned up the out of print Butterick 5528—views A and B both seemed like they would suit my aunt and be doable with my limited amount of fabric. I made no alterations, but I did determine that I wanted to make the longer view B.

The biggest hurdle was cutting out. This fabric is a subtle stripe, and I was hopeful I’d be able to at least roughly match it. I cut out the front panels first—then promptly realized that the big piece is the BACK, and had several panicked moments considering whether or not I even had enough fabric to cut the back, even if I didn’t match it. In the end I wriggled it around and the locations of the stripes do match, but the direction is opposite so the sequence is off. I can live with that. I did have enough random bits to make sure my pockets and cuffs lined up nicely. The hardest thing about cutting this fabric is that the stripe only shows on the right side, so you can’t easily just put your first cut piece face down and line up the stripes around it for the second. Fortunately it’s a simple pattern.

I used some teal tricot to make a binding for the edge of the very narrow facing. It gets topstitched down, which is nice and fast, and didn’t turn out too terrible. And apparently I failed to get a decent picture of it. I really need better light in the basement. I used fusible knit interfacing in the undercollar (works much better!) cuffs, and facing, which was more or less perfect.

The front isn’t meant to overlap—the pattern features a button on each side with some kind of closure between. Probably the instructions elucidate. I just grabbed a purple hair elastic and stitched it down the middle into a figure-8, which seems to work well and can be easily replaced if it goes missing. I couldn’t find any large enough teal buttons in stash but I thought the purple was a good substitute. The pockets are a little small, but most importantly they’re there, and almost perfectly matched!

My aunt seems very excited about it. I’m hopeful it will be neutral enough to pair with a bright hat or scarf (or shirt), without being too boring.


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The definition of insanity

Is repeating the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

This is the third time I’ve made Kwik Sew 2133 for my husband. The first was made entirely to pattern, with an epic tone on tone appliqué that really felt like a “level up” in my sewing. Unfortunately, my sensitive sweetie found the bands too snug and the dense cotton fleece too heavy for his comfort, so once the initial thrill with the design faded, it didn’t get much wear.

The second time is the grey one that I refashioned recently. It was a little roomier than the first version and the bands were a little looser, but it was still made of a beefy cotton with heavy ribbing bands. Because that’s what I look for in a sweater. Honey-bun is more interested in softness, draps-ness, and comfort.

I made version three the other night while procrastinating on some Christmas sewing. I upsized the pattern quite a bit. (You can see the two versions superimposed in the first picture.

For the bands, I used a smooth, stretchy interlock. You can see they’re not doing a whole lot of pulling in, which seems to be the way he likes it.

The main fabric was a lucky find that came in with a lot of random, inexpensive knits at my Fabricland, that wound up getting further discounted as is was dirty all the way along. It’s not what I would call high quality—it’s fairly thin and feels more polyester than anything. Fortunately, most of the dirt did come out in the laundry. But it’s lighter and drapier than my preferred cotton sweatshirt fleece, so it seemed like it might be closer to his taste than my previous picks. A rayon sweatshirt fleece might be even better but I haven’t run across one in a good colour.

So far the signs are good. When I had him try it on after I got the neckband on he wasn’t keen to take it off. He looks a bit like a kid wearing his dad’s sweater, but that’s my issue, not his. 😉 So, fingers crossed. And even if he doesn’t end up liking it, well, the fabric was cheap and the time minor.


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This is another one of those projects that seemed like a good idea at the time. Actually, i didn’t even mind the making so much. It was the making myself start making it that sucked eggs. I have a terrible time motivating myself for unselfish sewing.

The backstory is, I made my dad a shirt for Xmas—a short sleeved Negroni—back when we first moved back from Cowtown, and he has dutifully worn it every time we get together with them ever since. Which is flattering the first few times and then you realize he is definitely just wearing it because you are there, and then you have no idea if he actually even likes it at all.

In either case, though, it seemed like a good idea to give him another daughter-made option. So at least he’ll have options he doesn’t like.

After some digging around my Fabricland, I finally found a shirting that inspired me. It’s actually a home dec fabric, a medium weight cotton twill with a woven-in stripe. It’s a little thicker and a little softer than a quilting cotton.

For a pattern, since I was doing this as a shop project, I went with McCall’s 2447, in all its dated glory. I didn’t want a super-fitted or overly fussy pattern, and it actually seems fairly nicely drafted. It has a proper grain-elevator placket for the sleeve, a neat pocket detail, separate button band, and the collar isn’t as huge as I had feared. I checked the finished measurements and opted to make a medium rather than a large, because it’s hugely oversized. I’ve added 2″ to the sleeve length, which will hopefully be enough. I also made a cut-on button band rather than going with the separate route, because I was worried about stripe issues, but I like the option of the separate band for contrast and detail purposes.

I got a bit of coordinating quilt cotton to make contrast facings and a few other touches of color. The fun of menswear is in the little details, and it takes the right mindset for me to get in the mood.

I don’t feel like this is a crowning example of shirt making. My stitching isn’t quite as precise as I’d like, and the soft twill liked to shift around. I topstitched some of it at about 1/4″ and some is edge stitched and I like the edgestitch better, but not enough to go back and redo it all. I used three machines in construction, not counting the serger, which I only used to finish the armscye since I’m too lazy to flat-fell. I used my usual Janome for the main construction, with walking foot to facilitate stripe matching on the collar and back yoke. I used my grandmother’s old Rocketeer for the buttonholes. And I used a 70s-era Elna a friend gave me last summer for the top stitching, since it has a speed control, which is pretty much my favourite thing for top stitching ever.

On the other hand, I really like the overall effect. I like my little blue touches.

I kicked ass on the buttonholes (once I smartened up and put wash-away stabilizer under them all.)

I really like my pocket mod. (I used the pattern piece provided but not the construction method.)

And I think for a slouchy comfy shirt it might actually be just fine, even if I won’t be showing off my fine details.

To be honest, the more the topstitching trauma fades, the happier I am with it. It’s a soft, casual shirt but not sloppy, which I think SHOULD suit my dad’s current retired-professor lifestyle.

Who knows, he might even actually like it!


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Sweater dress (refashion edition)

I don’t refashion much. Generally I’d rather send something to a thrift store than take it apart. I’m pretty happy about this exception, though.

I made this grey sweatshirt (scroll down, the post has a bunch of little projects in it) for my husband about two years ago. It was Kwik Sew 2133, a classic “vintage” sweatshirt of a style it can be hard to find in stores these days. And to his credit, he did wear it. For a while. Then he decided to wash it.

With bleach.

By some miracle the main fabric was untouched, but the bands were pretty much ruined.

The shirt lurked. I removed the bottom band and hemmed, since he apparently doesn’t like bottom bands anyway (I am completely confused about what he means when he tells me he wants a classic sweatshirt, now). But then it was really too short. And it lurked.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the remnants of the original fabric in stash. There was about 40 cm left, not really enough for anything except a baby project—and I have no babies to sew for at the moment, thankfully—but it was just enough to turn a defunct sweater into a sweater dress.

I lapped the new piece on at my hem and attached with a zigzag. Then I started shaping. I cut the sleeves (with ruined cuff) to a 3/4 length, because that seemed fun, and narrowed, creating a side seam (the original sweater body was tube-knit). It’s fitted through the bust and then widens rapidly.

I considered shaping the hems, but went with a wide rib-knit band after I was able to find the same piece of grey ribbing.

In another miracle of hoarding, my new sleeve cuffs are a pair I had constructed for the sweatshirt back when I first made it, but they were deemed too tight by my husband, so I made another, wider set. This pair got tucked away in a drawer. It’s pretty miraculous that I was able to find them both last night as I puttered around.

I cut the neckline into a gentle scoop. At the moment it’s raw with some straight stitching for reinforcement, which I think is a fun, casual finish fog a sweater neck. We’ll see how I feel later on.

The only thing I’m thinking about now is adding pockets. EBoth my other grey sweater dresses have them, and I love the feature. As Syo pointed out, it would be easy enough to add some in the hip seam.

In the meantime, though, I’m just going to enjoy being warm and cozy.


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One of the recurring themes of Canadian life is the perpetual quest for clothing which is both weather-appropriate and stylish. And comfy. Comfy would be nice. Sewing my own clothes has made this quest a bit easier, but it’s still pretty easy to get sidetracked by fun but impractical makes.

In this vein, something I’ve wanted for a long time is a motorcycle jacket, but made out of sweatshirt fleece, so it’s more of a fancy sweater and less of a jacket.

I finally decided to make it happen for a shop project this fall, since all I want to sew right now is warm and cozy stuff.

I went with Burda 6800, a very cute little pattern with all the requisite moto details. For my “sweater” I wanted a cropped version, that would work with full skirts. I like the mental image of a 50s style dress with a teeny moto jacket. I haven’t had a chance to try it out like that yet, though. I cut the pattern off right at the waistline marking (and my pieces ended up varying in length about 1/4″). In hindsight I should’ve left a little more length for the hem.

I squared the shoulders slightly. Glad I have now figured out how to do that in a shoulder yoke situation.

The pockets are located below the waist, but I didn’t want to lose them, so as soon as I had the two front panels together I tried them on to make sure there would be room for little under boob pockets. There was. Did I mention I used the pocket piece as drafted? These are teeeny pockets.

I am just hoping they’re big enough for a credit card. In hind sight, since my version isn’t lined, I should’ve cut the pocket pieces to match the shape of the front panels, so their edges could be fully caught in the seams. Plus I’d get at least slightly bigger pockets that way. The pockets were cut out of cotton spandex jersey scraps. I fused a strip of fusible knit where the opening would be. There was a lot of fusible knit involved in this project. It turns the beefy sweatshirt knit into something that almost has the feel of laminate foam. Possibly a didn’t need quite as much as I used, but I find that a hard call to make when I’m constructing a woven pattern out of a knit.

After I got it to the try-on stage I realized I wanted to take in the princess seams in the back for a closer fit there. Of course, this was after I’d already topstitched. Pulling topstitching out of a spongy, thick knit is a special circle of hell, I think.

The shoulders are a bit wide, I think as a jacket vs. sweater consequence. I could’ve narrowed them but it would’ve messed with the evenness of the quilted lines on the shoulder yoke. First world problems. Speaking of which, those shoulders are pretty crazy. It’s a layer of batting sandwiched between two layers of sweater fleece, and they’re almost in football pad territory. I used my walking foot for the quilting and it still shifted a bunch, but I was able to more or less trim things back I to shape after.

I didn’t do my usual “petite” alteration, but I did raise the underarm on both bodice and sleeve. That was simpler given the pieces involved. Also lengthened the sleeve 2″. I could’ve probably gotten away with 1″, but extra long sleeves make me happy.

This is one of those projects I’m sad I have to let hang for a month. I would’ve worn it at least twice this week already. On the other hand, I really didn’t want to pay for the fabric. So there’s that.

In the meantime, I’m supposed to be making a motorcycle cover. That isn’t nearly as fun as the jacket, by the way.

I even like it with my new swing dress! I also can’t help but think that a version with a hood would be fun…


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Hallowe’en 2017 II: The Aviator

Tyo’s costume this year was both simpler and more frustrating than Syo’s. Simpler in that she had it picked out early, it required making a single piece, not three or four, and I bought a marked-down twill for it so no precious or sentimental fabric was sacrificed. Frustrating mainly because Tyo didn’t prioritize the making of it, so she kept making other plans and disappearing, and I was not prepared to sew it all for her, both because she’s old enough to do it herself and also hello, fitting. But mainly the first reason.

In case you’re wondering, she’s a Top Gun pilot. I believe she went with “Goose’s granddaughter”. She bought the patches, but was unenthused by the “girl Top Gun” costumes (one was a stretch Lycra flight suit, the other was a mini-dress version). She wanted coveralls, but that fit her.

The first tricky bit was the pattern. A dig through my Burda mag stash (thank you, Zena!) turned up a few jumpsuit possibilities, but nothing that would work in my heavy twill. (Maybe not the best fabric choice, but I’d already bought it at this point.)

Next best would be a combination of a high-waisted pants and a shirt pattern. I had made her Burda 6849 in plaid flannel a few years ago, which seemed perfect, and I found a pants pattern fairly quickly in my pattern database. Unfortunately, my intermittently-meticulous pattern organization failed me, and I couldn’t find either pattern. I think I maybe lent the pants pattern to a friend a couple of years ago. I have no idea where the Burda shirt has gone. Obviously some Quality Assurance* activities are in order.

(*My day job is at a government lab and QA is an obsession to the point where it’s alternately hilarious and ridiculous.)

Anyway. Obviously plan B was in order. A further search turned up Burda 3038, above, which had all the required style elements—except that it’s a young junior size range. It goes up to a 37” hip, which is close, but, um, the drafting was definitely for a preadolescent body.

I raised the back rise a bit over an inch, doubled the size of the back darts, and added a bit of width to the hips. I should’ve added a bit more to the hips, but all in all it worked out surprisingly well. I’m not saying they fit “well” for pants, but, well, they fit!

The rise would be great as pants, but was not quite as high as I was hoping for for coveralls. But since we were on a project-runway style deadline, we made it work.

Oh yeah, deadline. Because my darling, sociable seventeen-year-old couldn’t make herself stay home long enough to work on it until the day before Hallowe’en. Aside from tracing out the patterns, this was entirely cut out and assembled on Oct. 30 between 4:00 and 11 pm. Which is well past when I need to be in bed, by the way.

Since I couldn’t find the shirt pattern, we fell back to Kwik Sew 433. Tyo had made this before for an unblogged Terry Bogard cosplay, so it was traced out and I knew it would fit. I added about 2” in length to the body, to accommodate the whole “it’s a jumpsuit now” thing. I also added a small tuck on each side of the back to make the waistband fit. It was a very small tuck—I could easily have taken the width out at the side seams or something.

And, by some miracle, it all worked. I thought maybe I added too much length at the back, but then she sat down. Less in the front might have been possible, but I don’t think it’s a problem, really.

I tried to make Tyo do most of the work, but as the evening wore on and time grew short I wound up doing more of it. So she did the cutting out, and constructed the pants (including cargo pockets!) mostly on her own, but I did all the sewing for the top except the darts. Fortunately I noticed that the KS seam allowances for the jacket/top were only 1/4” BEFORE we sewed anything at 5/8”, which would’ve been both hilarious and painful. I did manage to insert the zipper inside out.

You may have noticed the cuffs at both sleeve and pants hems. This is because both are unfinished. And yet, sometimes that’s good enough. She can finish those for next year, when it gets reworked into a ghostbusters costume.


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