Tag Archives: finished projects

Dark Academia

Is apparently a thing? And the older girls want to assemble outfits and take pictures. So they have been collecting, among other things, pleated plaid skirts, which are apparently having a Moment again.

So they thought the twins needed some too.

A few months ago Tyo picked up an old plaid flannel duvet cover at Value Village, purely for the fabric. While flannel isn’t exactly ideal for this kind of skirt, I wasn’t going to go stash-diving, or sacrifice anything precious, for this quick make. Also, the edge where the buttons had attached was already hemmed.

So, I measured roughly what seemed like a good skirt length for a two-year-old, plus a bit for folding over elastic, and tore off the long, hemmed edge. Oh, I removed the buttons, too, in case you were wondering. Once I had a long, hemmed rectangle, I cut it in half (because twins) and started pleating. In the end I didn’t have quite enough fabric for fully-pleated skirts, so they have a flat front reminiscent of a kilt, which I am ok with.

The wavy hem is not my fault!

Once I had lengths a bit bigger than the twins’ bottoms, I stitched them up into a tube, and added elastic at the waist, so they pull on just like pyjama bottoms.

Action shot. Also: first fashion dolls!

The only hitch was actually that time-saving pre-finished hem from the original duvet. Of course the fabric was cut, and then hemmed, off-grain, while I had torn the upper edge of the skirt so as to be perfectly on grain, so the hems didn’t line up perfectly when I sewed the skirts into tubes. To manage this I unpicked a few inches at each end and then “blended” (aka fudged) the two lengths together, and the jog isn’t overly noticeable. They definitely won’t take home any sewing awards, but they’re still pretty cute.

I will add, I finished these several weeks ago and am still waiting on the older girls to put together their photo shoot. So, you get messy living-room action shots.

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Simple white T-shirts

(I made these shirts, and wrote this post, months ago, but never hit publish because I wanted better photos. I should never do that; it never works out. So if the twins look vastly different in age between pictures, that’s why.)

There’s been a debate in the sewing community over the years on the value of making tee shirts, when they’re so readily and cheaply available. Obviously I’m on “team make it anyway, at least if it’s fun for you.” But I did question my sanity a bit on deciding to make these. Surely there are plain white toddler tee shirts to be had fairly easily for a couple of bucks? But in the end I’m glad I made them.

I’ve honestly been wanting to make the twins shirts like these since I finished their Christmas overalls. I held off because, well, see above about tee shirts, and when we switched over to the 18-month clothes the volume of hand-me-downs in their wardrobe doesn’t even fit in their dresser, plus their dad has made a bit of a hobby of scouring thrift shops for matching second-hand baby outfits—he enjoys the challenge. Frankly he’s a better baby stylist than me. But he has increased the number of overalls in their wardrobe substantially, and one thing you are NOT likely to find at the thrift store is multiple white unstained toddler shirts. So these were actually a practical addition.

Look how much more hair River has now than when I took the pics with the overalls!

For the pattern, I used Jalie 2805, which I had traced the smallest size way back when I made the white sweatshirts. The Jalie size F (=2T, I’m told) is still pretty roomy on the twins, but this is also a pretty fitted style. I figured I’d start with the short sleeve because a) summer, and b) no worries about excess length.

And I already have the fabrics and the patterns, so might as well, right?

And the shirts are a little bit big, but that also means they’ll fit for a comfortable length of time.

The fabric is a beefy cotton interlock I bought at some point when thinking I would make tee shirts for my husband. It turns out he’s ridiculously fussy about tees, both fit and feel, and while I won’t swear that I’ll never try again (because finding him a tee he’ll wear at a store is also pretty hit or miss) it won’t be with this fabric, which apparently doesn’t “feel right.” I was actually looking for a cotton Lycra for the twins but this seemed pretty good for a start so I ended my stash search.

Other than that there’s not much to say. The construction is simple. I will brag a little as I think I’m finally making some progress with the precision of my topstitching on the coverstitch (although the hems aren’t quite as tidy.) The heavier fabric is a little puffy, but I also could probably have pressed better. Making a garment entirely on the serger and coverstitch still feels a bit like cheating, though.

Oh and they probably wouldn’t even be finished if I hadn’t needed to change the thread on the coverstitch to make Syo’s grad gown…. (But that’s another story for another day!)

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The Sundress that Missed Summer

So I blinked and my summer disappeared, how about yours? We got ourselves caught up in some renovation that spiraled far out of control and I’m still reeling from it. Not to mention two year old twins are a HANDFUL. anyway, when I started this sundress there was still a comfortable amount of summer left ahead—now it’s finally finished, it’s Labour Day. I don’t know why the stupid thing about not wearing white after labour day is the one fashion rule I feel anxious about breaking but, well, there it is. Anyway.

The dress is loosely based on a tutorial By Hand London posted in their Instagram stories, I thought last spring but apparently a year ago in the spring? Anyway it’s a simple shirred sundress with rectangular puffy sleeves added, so to what extent a tutorial is really necessary I’ll leave up to you.

The real experiment for this dress, though, was using my coverstitch machine to do the shirring. No hand-winding the elastic into bobbins that always run out at the worst moment! This experiment was inspired by me noticing that the twins’ shirred storebought dresses are, in fact, stitched with a chain stitch. Which my coverstitch can, of course, do.

I tested it out, and it worked fabulously (or potentially fabulously, see below). I will be doing my shirring on the coverstitch from now on!

However, the villain of this particular make (aside from my house for forcing me to spend the summer renovating instead of sewing) was actually my elastic thread. I had a whole spool of the cheap stuff (I do know better, but it wound up in my stash somehow, and if I waited until I made it to a fabric store to buy actual good elastic thread, the whole thing would’ve been left ANOTHER year. .) And it was not evident at the start, but at some point this spool got water-damaged, and as the project proceeded the thread became more and more grody and decayed—and stuck to itself more and more, which caused endless problems with the shirring. So there’s a non-zero chance that after the first washing I’ll have to unpick and redo that entire step, which I won’t lie, is kind of horrifying. So we’re just not going to think about it right now.

The fabric was purchased from Fabricland in my last year or so of working there, which makes it five or six years old? Yikes! I’m always a sucker for border embroideries and this one is near the nicest I’ve seen, although the stitching quality isn’t the best. I wanted to use all of the three or so mètres I had, so I decided to add a gathered seam above the top of the embroidery, so I could have a little less fabric bulk in the upper portion.

It did require lining, though. One of the biggest delays in starting the dress was in finding the time to locate an appropriate lightweight cotton in stash. However, eventually I did… my stash organization is pretty rudimentary, which given my stash SIZE is not ideal.

I stitched the cotton voile lining to the outer fabric along the top and then flipped them so that edge was pre-finished, then shirred away through both layers. I was a bit nervous about the two layers feeding evenly and not getting distorted, but if there was any shifting the gathering hides it well. I sewed the back seam after. I cut the lining short so it doesn’t show through the cut-out lacework, however. Other than the piece of lining I cut off, though, this is a zero-waste dress—the sleeves dimensions were determined by what I had left over from the bodice.

Because of my issues with the thread, I stopped my bodice shirring higher than I had meant to, but I actually think I really like where it lands. When and if I get more (better) thread, I might add a few more rows, but not many.

I did need to tweak the attachment of the sleeves a bit, in the hopes of keeping them on my shoulders a bit better (it helped but they do still tend to fall down—a ribbon tie across the back may be needed). I also ran a line of 1/4” elastic around the top to try to help keep things up better, especially when the sleeves fall of my shoulders, but there still isn’t a huge difference between my high bust and full bust so this kind of support doesn’t work well for me.

The only thing missing, I fear, is pockets. Side seam weren’t an option (since there are no side seams) and patch just didn’t seem right. Also there’s that gathered seam right over prime pocket territory. I don’t know if it’ll be too much of an issue as I think this is going to have to be more of a special occasion dress anyway.

Assuming I can get out the weird pink stain one of the twins left on it already…

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Camouflage pinafores

There’s a pattern by Helen’s Closet for a simple, pull-over adult pinafore, called the York Pinafore. I made one a few years ago, here. Well, a few weeks ago I got it into my head that matching mini Yorks for the twins would be adorable.

Can you spot the pocket?

I had actually started taking some measurements and drafting a pattern when I realized that I already had one—the stretchy overalls I made the twins over the winter are actually the exact same shape, minus the legs.

So I grabbed a kangaroo pocket in the twins size from Jalie 3355, and a yard of camo-print corduroy that I wasn’t sad to see go from the stash, and made them.

This was a simple project that would’ve been quick under any normal circumstances, but I can rarely “sew” for more than ten minutes at a stretch these days (Though the twins are very interested and excited to help me sort through everything, especially if it involves pins or pulling thread off of spools.)

For the bias tape finish I used some red quilting cotton tape I had made at some point for… something? Anyway it was in stash and ready to go. My application wasn’t particularly perfect, but I’m not going to fuss too badly about it. I do like the pop of colour.

My least favourite part is the hem; I did a quick blind hem on my machine, but in the black thread it’s not the least bit blind. I should’ve used a tan thread and just coloured the bits that showed with a sharpie. Or just topstitched the hem like the bias tape, which would’ve been easier. But I don’t think it will bother me enough to change—sewing time is too precious and summer is too fleeting.

Despite the cuteness these are a bit heavy for the weather we’re having, which has most days reaching higher than 30C, so I’ll just have to hope they still fit come fall…

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The Graduate

Thanks to COVID-19 it was a very strange, sad year to graduate high school. Syo (now seventeen, not seven) missed out on a lot this year—school musical, dance classes, Pom and cheer, and while our schoolboard never did shut down in person class this year, there has been a system of alternating days to keep the in-class numbers low, so there’s many friends she hasn’t even seen at class all year.

The one thing we were determined to make as normal as possible—a proper, handmade grad dress.

We started off strong. Syo did a concept drawing last fall and we purchased fabric back before Hallowe’en. Over Christmas we began making mock-ups, first perfecting a strapless knit “block” that fit to her liking, and then testing several iterations of the cowl-like neckline she wanted.

Please note: slightly draped neckline and asymmetrical side gathers.

And then in March, staring down the barrel of the “last mock up,” it was confirmed that there would be no big grad ceremony as our region entered its third wave of the pandemic. And we both lost steam. Even though I had told both her and myself that she deserved the dress with or without the ceremony or the party.

But finally, in early June, I put on my big girl panties and asked if she really wanted to finish it. And she did.

Commence panic.

We had to draft the final pattern. Half-circle full length skirt, in one piece with an asymmetrical bodice with ruching on one side only. The skirt wound up being too wide for the fabric. We were able to narrow it slightly for the red under layer, but the problem was much bigger for the black mesh overlay, which was a slightly narrower fabric with an even bigger pattern piece in the front. (In the back we added a CB seam to compensate)

This is where I made my biggest mistake. I should’ve just let the pattern hang off the edge of the fabric and cut the full length. Instead, thinking it would be covered by the lace, I made the decision to skip the bottom most portion of the front skirt. This did not work out—thé degree of coverage of the lace’s mesh was much less than the stretch mesh, so we had to add a big piece of stretch mesh to the bottom. Syo is less bothered by it than I am, fortunately. And actually, when it’s on and the skirt is draping in its folds it’s not at all noticeable.

Yes, she insisted the slit be that high.

There were a few other hiccoughs in construction. She really wanted to be able to move the straps either up onto her shoulders or draping down off of them, which is fine but wasn’t working out with the back portion of the strap, so at the last moment we had to cut that off. And her desire for a cut-out back with lacing (absent in that original sketch, you may note) made EVERYTHING more complicated.

The back-lacing ribbon extending to attach to the straps (with a black lingerie ring to look fancy although they’re not really visible) was a last minute remedy, and I think it works well even though it wasn’t part of the original vision.

And yes, it’s one of the most striking features of the finished gown and I didn’t get ANY actual pictures of it on her on the Day?!?

It took a fair bit of fussing to get the side gathers right, and the weight of the lace on the hem pulled them down in a way not really intended.

The biggest and hardest part, though, was appliqueing the lace on to the bottom of the skirt. It was a full-width lace fabric, and I had originally expected to use rather more of it than just the wide scalloped borders, but it became obvious that it was going to be much simpler to fit just the border to the curve (there was still a lot of snipping and overlapping) and then appliqué isolated lace medallions trailing up the skirt after. Although that last bit did not happen due to time constraints.

So many pins…

I’ve done lace-play a couple of times before, and it’s incredibly fun to mix, match, and reshape motifs into the shape you need. But the scale of this, and the tight time constraint, was new. Not to mention the fact that I would be appliqueing non-stretch lace into a stretch mesh.

Placement was the first issue—the weight of the lace pulled down on the stretch mesh so that I had to raise everything at least an inch from where it “should” have been. Getting everything as flat as possible was the second issue, and there are still areas that ended up stretched and puckered despite my best efforts. In hindsight, backing the whole thing with a layer of wash-away stabilizer might have been helpful, but I didn’t think of that until I was well into the weeds. Or or having the time to hand-baste everything, but see above about time crunch.

As it is, I did my preliminary placement on the dress form and then refined and smoothed things out as I went along. We’ll just pretend it adds texture and depth to the lace.

We had to ditch the idea of further lace medallions scattered up the skirt due to time, but I did add fusible interfacing to a lace motif to make an appliqué for the top of the skirt slit.

Every bit as impractical as they look.

When one is playing with lace, you have to go for it, so we also added little lace motifs to her shoes and, of course, a mask. (This involved some last minute hand-stitching the morning of.)

(Made the mask back last summer, just added lace to match the dress)

The graduation ceremony was modified into a kind of conveyer-belt style where each grad and family group was moved in in turn, and each got to walk across the stage and receive their diploma from the principal, one by one. It was more than I expected, frankly, and what it lacked in gravitas was made up for in photo-ops, although Syo may not feel the same.

The biggest problem in the end was that the weight of the skirt pulled down on what is, essentially, a strapless knit dress. I’m not sure how we could anchor it better, however, as it’s hard to add a waist stay to a knit (power mesh panels?) without creating bulges.

Anyway, she got many gorgeous photos although I didn’t manage to take any of the back! and I didn’t manage to capture the details of the dress all that well. But the best one remains this snap of her looking at Tris, taken just as we left for the ceremony.

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Unnecessary Jeggings

Or, Thing You Can Sew During Naptime

I haven’t been able to do much naptime sewing lately, but I managed a wee bit today, and for some reason, I made the twins jeggings.

I mean, I like jeggings. They have a couple of RTW pairs that that are getting pretty janky and are also nine month size (and the twins, while fairly shrimpy, are getting a bit tall for that at almost 21 months)

But they also have eighty million other pants and we’re fast approaching shorts season.

Anyway, as jeggings go these ones are pretty minimal—no pockets or back yoke or anything. I started with the same basic Jalie leggings pattern (2920), in the F size (size 2), which I’ve used for other leggings for them in the past. The only changes I made were to add a fly extension at the front crotch, to support the mock-fly topstitching, and to add about 1” of length and a bit of width to the bottom of the leg, for a more “pants” and less “leggings” fit.

The fabric is this glorious heavy “denim” knit I bought a ridiculous amount of back when I worked at Fabricland, and I wouldn’t mind making myself another pair of jeggings from it if I can motivate myself.

I did the topstitching again using the triple straight stitch on my vintage Elna, which is both ridiculously fast and better looking than the same stitch on my Janome, although it’s a little hit or miss. Since I was working with 1/4” seam allowances and the only way to topstitch the inseam on leggings is to sew up the inside of the tube, which is always a bit tricky, I opted for a single row of topstitching everywhere except the “fly”, and I’m pretty happy with that choice. (Also, a lot faster)

Anyway, they fit fairly “loosely” as leggings go, and there’s plenty of length, so even if they don’t get much wear over the summer I’m sure they will still fit come fall.

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Cold mess jeans

I’d call these jeans a hot mess, but they took way too long for that.

Sometime last year, amidst a tentative return to sewing when the twins started napping a little more reliably, I started work on a second pair of Closet Core Patterns Ginger Jeans. I need jeans pretty badly; while I did get back into my last few pairs after having the twins, they were on their last legs already. I’ve been a bit, ah, ambivalent about jeans for a few years now, mainly because the body I have to put in them has changed over the last ten years, as has the prevailing fashion, and I’m not sure how I feel about either fact.

But anyway, another pair of Ginger Jeans felt fairly safe stylistically. My last pair (which just need a new button, except the twins have managed to lose all of my jeans buttons somehow?) weren’t perfect but I was pretty comfortable with a few tweaks they’d be… as good as they could be. My pocket placement is a lot better this time, although they’re still too far out from the CB seam, at least they aren’t too low.

The fabric I picked is a Robert Kaufman extra-stretchy denim from Periwinkle Quilting, which is VERY, very stretchy. The fabric I used last time was also very stretchy, so it seemed like a good choice especially given my measurements have changed and there was no way in hell I was reprinting my pattern.

Anyway, I got them cut out, and then promptly ran into issues with the topstitching. This denim is so stretchy that not only was I worried about topstitching breaking (not so much the topstitching thread itself but the regular thread on the underside), but in my last version one of the issues was the yoke seam and pocket tops making dents in my backside because they didn’t stretch as much as the rest. Not the prettiest look. So after a bunch of testing on several machines, I settled on a triple straight stitch on my Elna machine. This gives a great heavy look, and it’s very stretchy, as long as everything works perfectly—but it’s also easy to mess up. Oh, and at this point I’d already done the front pocket and fly assembly (which are all stabilized by the pocket bags etc.) with a regular straight stitch topstitching. So now the back topstitching wouldn’t match the front, but I figured that was better than tight lines and broken stitches.

Anyway, I started plugging away at construction last summer, arguably the heyday of my post-twin sewing (I wasn’t back at work yet and I was getting to do at least a few minutes of sewing almost every day at nap time)… and then halfway through topstitching the inseam I ran out of topstitching thread. (Because the triple straight stitch is a huge thread hog)

In the old days this would’ve been a negligible issue. In a covid-lockdown world where I no longer work at a fabric store and have twin babies I don’t like to take shopping, it took weeks to get to a store and pick up some more, only to misremember the colour number and get the OTHER shade of gold topstitching thread. And then months to get back again to correct that. It was October by the time I had the right thread (which still isn’t perfectly right because of dye lots, but it’ll do), and I was back at work and very short on time. I did manage to sew up the side-seams and get them fitted sometime around Christmas, but there were other projects that took priority and then the whole jeans vanished, somewhere in the drifts of chaos as the twins disassembled ever increasing portions of our basement.

Anyway, when the Sewcialists’ final theme month was announced as All Butts Welcome, it seemed like the perfect prod to get me to finish the jeans. And they did turn up, after a few weeks of incremental tidying (in an area I swear I’d searched several times before). So I plunged back in. Except.

After the long hiatus, a lot of the details were fuzzy to me. I forgot that I was topstitching on the Elna. I grabbed the wrong colour topstitching thread. Triple straight stitch is almost impossible to pick out, people, especially when sewn on my Janome, which for some reason will only stitch that particular stitch at the default 2.2mm length—which is why I was using the Elna, not that I remembered that until after I had topstitched the waistband. Can I call it a design feature?

An extra line of not-very-straight topstitching is a legit design detail, right?

Then I realized that I had forgotten I ran out of topstitching thread partway through topstitching the inseam. So one inseam had only one line of topstitching, while the other side had two. I wasn’t prepared to roll with this, so I got the Elna set up. The stitch was perfect on my test, but for whatever reason, as I painstakingly stitched up the inside of the already-sewn leg tube, the backward-forward motion of the triple stitch was off, and because you can’t see much of what you’re stitching, I couldn’t see how bad it was until I got it done. It’s pretty bad. But it’s just half an inseam, right? It went on to topstitch the hems perfectly. The back and forward of this stitch can be affected by you pulling on the fabric, which is hard not to do when stitching up the inside of a tube, but I swear I was very conscious and careful of this. Anyway. I’m not currently willing to try it again.

Can you spot the wonky line of topstitching? I mean, of course you can but it’s less obvious in this photo than I thought it would be, actually.

As a final insult, I ran out of the gold regular thread I use for bar-tacks halfway through doing the belt loops. (Doing bar tacks in topstitching thread on home sewing machines is asking for it, I have learned painfully over the years.) Fortunately a scrounge through the thread drawer turned up some old thread from my Grandma’s stash in the right colour. Mostly I try not to use the old thread for construction as I don’t trust it’s strength, but for bar tacks on belt loops that won’t likely be used, it should be ok.

No, wait, maybe the final insult was discovering that the twins have managed to lose all my little jars of jeans buttons (I have quite a few, but they’ve been systematically emptying the drawers of my sewing desk for months and I have no idea where I put most of the contents. I miss my storage space.) Or maybe it was the half-ass attempt at a keyhole button hole that my Janome managed to put out, but I have low expectations for jeans buttonholes so I wasn’t too traumatized at that point. Although looking at the pictures, I realized I made the buttonhole too far from the end of the waistband, which allows the end to flip up and stick out a bit. I’m thinking a hook and eye or two might be called for, since I’m not moving button or button hole at this point.

At any rate, it was a pretty sweet triumph to finally put them on, and then be able to take some quick pictures right away.

I’m still not really sold on high-rise jeans on my body—I don’t have a teeny waist and I feel like they just make me look rectangular. My squishier mid-section has made my old low-rise stand-by less appealing, and mid-rise falls right in the middle of my “squishiness”, which is either uncomfortable and just squishes extra width up to my waist, or if it’s loose enough not to squish, just rolls down to the hip dip at my low-rise level. On the other hand, I’m not the sort to tuck a shirt into jeans, and I’m not likely to wear a crop-top like this out of the house. So maybe it really doesn’t matter anyway. Anyway, I’ve worn them and I will continue wearing them, and they feel pretty good on although a little too stretchy. But I may give in and buy my next pair of jeans, because I really don’t have the brain power for this kind of project right now.

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Cottagecore Mini

To use up the last of the linen from my adventure skirt (and top), I decided to make the twins dresses. There was about enough fabric to make one dress, so this required bringing in a coordinating fabric. I dug out some more of the blue-grey shot cotton gauze I used for the bindings on the little top. Although it’s a very different fabric in terms of thickness, weave, and even texture, something about the white threads make them both work well together, I think.

I wanted something with a yoke and gathered skirt and no sleeves, and I basically found it in Style 1487. Thé only drawback was that it’s a size 2, which is still a bit roomy for the twins. However, they have this annoying tendency to keep growing so I figured I’d give it a try.

They are pretty adorable if I do say so myself.

All in all the dresses are definitely a bit roomy, but not catastrophically so. They’ll fit for the length of the summer for sure, and if I’m lucky still work next summer.

After a lot of quick knit projects on the serger and coverstitch, there’s something soothing about a classic 70s pattern with all the “traditional” home sewing touches. These are no couture gowns, but they were fun to make.

My only real irritation is that the “bodice” of the pattern is actually a yoke, which doesn’t come the full way down the armscye. I didn’t really think much about this at the start, but it means that the top of the armscye (in the sleeveless version, anyway), is finished by the lining, but the bottom has to be finished with bias tape. Either of these methods alone is fine, but I was annoyed at having to do both.

On thé other hand I really like the proportions, and the gently flared shape and square neckline and pockets. So it is what it is.

I wanted to make sure I blended elements of the blue cotton fabric into both versions of the dress, since the yokes were all of the linen fabric. One possibility was to add blue piping around the neck. I did a frankly terrible job of applying piping to the neckline, to the point where I decided not to try that with the other bodice. I’m a little annoyed with myself as piping used to be something I was fairly good at, but not enough to try to go back and fix it.

The lace is different between the two bodices as well, and applied differently—one before the skirt, and the second one after, as I realized that by applying the lace first I made it impossible to tuck the skirt seam in between the layers of the yoke. So the internal finishing isn’t quite as neat on that version. I still like how they both look, however.

The backs are meant to be finished with a centered zipper, and I chose to add buttonholes and buttons instead. I didn’t draft extra overlap for this, although I did sew with a very narrow seam allowance along the CB edges of the yokes, and they seem to accommodate the overlap well enough.

My biggest worry now is that I feel like the dresses are too “good” for everyday wear and I’ll want to save them for nonexistent special occasions. But hopefully I’ll get over that, because while they weren’t exactly couture they’re still a lot more work than knit leggings, and it took me several weeks of incremental sewing to get them to this point. I want the twins to wear the snot out of them.

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Adventure skirt

This skirt comes from the confluence of a lot of things. I miss my old wardrobe. I’m so sick of living in leggings. I wanted to work with some linen—I’m craving the feel of a crisp natural fiber against my hands. And I guess the Sewcialists’ Zero Waste sewing month (that’s how long sewing this has taken) wormed itself into my subconscious, because even though I’m not usually thrilled with the practice of zero waste sewing, I wanted to try a really low-waste approach to this skirt.

It’s also taken a fuck load of time to complete, one seam (or even half seam) at a time, as the twins are VERY busy these days and we’re all worn out with winter and isolation, so it’s been hard to ask for more alone time to sew when everyone else I can ask is already at their limit, too.

The fabric was a big piece of extra-wide linen from Pure Linen Envy. I had ordered it hoping to make a bed sheet, but the 208cm width wasn’t quite wide enough for a queen size bed, nor is the fairly loose weave really ideal for bedding. But it wasn’t overly expensive for the size, and since it hadn’t really worked for its original purpose, I didn’t mind sacrificing it for something kind of experimental.

I started by calculating out the measurements for a trapezoid skirt. This is the low-waste method where you cut trapezoids in alternating directions, and then flip them around so the narrow ends make the waist and the wide ends give you the skirt’s flare. I could go into how I carefully decided on my number of panels, divided my waist measure by that, and then figured out how wide the bottom could be given that waist… but then my plotting onto the fabric wasn’t terribly precise (not least because my fabric was really wrinkly because have you ever tried to iron 2m wide linen while two toddlers are trying to climb the ironing board?!?) and then the resulting skirt wouldn’t have been quite as full as I wanted. So I cut another set of panels, planning an assortment of pleats to fit the waistband… so really there’s a lot more “than art” in this than science. Which is fine, really.

I had a lot of fun playing with pleat ideas, and then I had the idea to add adjustable pickups, which I’ve wanted to do for a steampunk feel of skirt for a long time. Big patch pockets as well. In my head there were elements of asymmetry as well, but I may have kind of blinked in that staring contest (although due to my rather haphazard cutting and equally haphazard pleating there’s some asymmetry for sure.)

I spent a lot of time faffing about, well, all the details, and in the end it’s fairly simple.

The big patch pockets (which are set way too low to be truly functional but I’m not moving them now) are simple rectangles. I sewed some big, gorgeous, heavy shell buttons on them for decoration, which made them sag awfully, so then I added some tabs with buttonholes.

For the pick ups on the front, I used a 3/4” twill tape (tea dyed to be a little closer to the warm brownish beige of the linen) and some little brass D rings I stocked up on way back in my Fabricland days. And I still have lots more… After mentally planning all kinds of elaborate methods, I just tied some lengths of narrowed twill tape to the top-most D rings. It works.

I very carefully didn’t make the waistband of the skirt too tight, and now I think it’s too loose. I will try just adding a second button, though, so I can adjust it through the day, because I notice that what feels comfortable in the mornings these days can be way too tight as the day wears on. The wonders of getting older, I guess.

Leveling the hem was a bit of a nightmare. I’m not good at leveling hems at the best of times, and my simple trapezoid cutting plan inevitable created long points at the seams and shorter spots at the middle of the panels (and did I mention there were 14 panels?), and it’s probably still not that even, but if you notice you can just keep that to yourself, all right?

At the risk of this post getting way too long, I’ll say a few quick words about the top. It’s from an older Burda magazine, and I made it before to go with another skirt and failed to write about it then. I used it again this time for two reasons: 1) it was the general style I wanted, and 2) the pattern was already traced. Obviously, I’m a bit bigger than last time, so I needed to upsize a bit. I added some with to the side seams, and did a wee bit of an FBA along the princess seam (which didn’t work out terribly well as it doesn’t run over the bust—I should’ve done an FBA using the tiny dart. In the end I was a bit over-generous, and had to take in quite a bit, and it just doesn’t sit as nice as I wish it did. Particularly, I was paranoid about making it too tight, so I may have erred on the side of too loose. I’m also debating adding some boning to the seams to keep it sitting a bit better. Also I didn’t stabilize the curved seam on the sweetheart neckline, which is ok now but we’ll see. I do like the binding finish I added.

The kids have informed me that the whole outfit is “cottagecore”, which I’m going to run with. It’s a lot of fun, especially the swishy skirt.

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Cuddlicious

As soon as I finished my first Madison cardigan, two things became clear: 1) I loved it, and 2) the black wool jersey, while gorgeous and yummy, was going to have to be reserved for at work wear, since the abundance of cat hair and random baby goop in our house means that anything actually worn at home needs to be easy wash.

I immediately began fantasizing about my perfect “lounging around the house” version. Like most of the world I’ve spent most of this past year at home being very unglamorous—leggings, nursing tanks, and a few RTW hoodies have featured prominently. One of my goals (largely unrealized) has been to create loungewear that still feels fun and stylish. A version of the Madison in French terry or sweatshirt fleece would be utterly, utterly perfect.

Alas, I was pretty sure I had no pieces of those precious fabrics in stash in sufficient quantities. The Madison is not a scrap busting piece. And both French terry and sweatshirt fleece are expensive enough that I rarely have the opportunity to just “stock up for later.”

But then as we were digging through some bins I haven’t touched in years, looking for tester fabrics for Syo’s grad gown, we stumbled upon the motherload. A 3m cut of glorious marled grey sweatshirt fleece. The skies opened up and choirs of angels sang, and I knew I had found my next Madison cardigan.

The only real tweak I made to the pattern this time around was to narrow the sleeves by another inch or so. I may have overdone it, at least in the not-overly-stretchy sweatshirt fleece, but I do like how they look.

The pockets are slightly different only because I couldn’t be bothered to pull out the Blackwood Cardigan pattern whose pockets I used last time—this time I just cut rectangles big enough to house my phone and hemmed the top edge. Oh, and I didn’t turn the edges under. I may never turn the edges under on knit patch pockets again.

For my black wool jersey version I left the cut edge raw, which is working well for that fabric, but though I love the drape and softness of the raw edge on the sweatshirt fleece, it was already starting to stretch and curl in less-than-ideal ways. So, after much testing, I settled on a three-needle coverstitch along the edges, with the differential feed raised the slightest bit to counter any stretching. I love the look, and if it does end up needing hemming in the end, I can do that later. Since I went with the three threads for the edge, I used them for hemming the pockets and sleeves as well. (And it is still curling a bit after the first wash, as you can see in the photos, but not enough to make me unhappy.)

In the end the result feels like a wearable blanket that actually looks elegant. I can throw it over leggings and a tank top and actually feel pretty and put together (well, assuming I can manage to do my hair as well, which is a bit of a stretch. Hence the headless photos). Which is exactly what my life is calling for these days. So I’m putting this one in the “win” category, even if it did take me almost two months to take even these poor photos.

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