Tag Archives: Me-Made March


A springy little pattern

So aside from Saturday’s various obligatory activities (cleaning, yelling at children, pouting at the 20-30cm of snow (that’s 8 to 12 inches) that’s already fallen today, and it’s coming down steadily), all I’ve been doing is messing around with paper as per the various instructions on the RTW tailoring sewalong (wowza, I think my brain broke—on the plus side Sherry’s walking us through making facing pieces etc. which is good for me since I don’t have any drafted yet!). While fun, this is not particularly scenic to share. Oh, and I lengthened the bodice front of my muslin, which will hopefully make up for the unevenness of the skirt.

Interfacing trials

I also trialled a couple of different interfacings on my fabric—I can’t say that I really noticed a difference between the two, although the fusing might be slightly better on the knit (right). I am a little concerned that either is going to be too thick for my pleated cuffs. Will the world end if I don’t interface my cuffs? My fabric itself is pretty beefy to begin with…

Out of curiosity (this is thrift store fabric, remember) I also tried my first burn test. The fibre doesn’t stay lit, melts into a smooth bead that’s either black or neutral depending on how much soot gets in it, and smells like plastic when it’s burning. I’m not sure exactly what that makes it (maybe polyester), but definitely man-made. Which is about what I thought.

I’m alternating between being overwhelmed by all the details to do for the sewalong and being impatient to get cutting fabric. Which probably means Sherry’s pace is just right ;). Especially since the kids will be done their spring break and I’ll be “fully recovered” on Monday, which means no more slacking from my real-life stuff…


Me-Made-March: the Autopsy

(Or, more than you really want to hear about my wardrobe for the last month…) I mentioned my big me-made lessons for the month yesterday, so I won’t belabour them much. Much greater selection of clothing this time, less helpful weather, crappy photos, yadda yadda…

A possible favourite, day 31

I was hoping to go through and pick my fave outfit (or five) but I’m really having a hard time. Obviously there’s the “dressed up” days, when I wore outfits that feel just dang costumey. Not bad, but definitely out there. Those would be day 3, day 12, day 15, maybe day 26, and, of course, day 31. Of these, day 15 (the “Ceylon suit” as I tend to think of it) and day 31 are probably my faves, but there’s nothing wrong with the others. Incidentally, I always feel a bit awkward wearing the pouffy circle skirts, and it’s not because they feel costumey. Rather, I feel a bit rude and obtrusive, as if I’m taking up too much space with that big skirt, especially if I wear one on the train or to the grocery store or a crowded waiting room. Weird, no? Come to that, I kinda feel the same way when driving a mini-van.

The rest of the month I would call “regular” days—my usual uniform of pants and a top. Mostly jeans; the skinny cargoes and the skinny jeans got the heaviest rotation, but the silver-topstitched jeans are still probably my favourite, even though they’re getting pretty ratty (pockets shredded, topstitching failing, and now a small hole at the crotch seam). I’m glad I got to haul out my first attempt at the Ellen pants, which I initially wasn’t sure would ever get worn, but apparently I’m a lot more into white pants in March than in October. My fave top of the month probably wound up being the fluttery cowl, despite my initial dislike for the flutter sleeves, although I’m still quite enamoured of my Stegosaurus top and the blue raglan top. Not sure why, since they both photograph as BORING, but something about that thick, slightly scratchy knit just feels substantial and cosy. And much as I was trying to feel spring this month, I needed cozy.

Which brings me to my big me-made fail: toppers.

A me-made topper.

This would be that nebulous category that includes sweaters, hoodies, bunnyhugs, shrugs, cardigans… the stuff worn over your shirt to keep me warm. At this stage I have three me-made toppers, which you’d think would be adequate… the Kimono Lady Grey, the Simplicity Cardi-wrap, and the 50s shrug.Β I did wear the KLG several times, but a) it completely hides the shirt underneath, which makes me sad if it’s a cool shirt, and b) is so distinctive I don’t like to wear it that often (well, except for the first month after I made it when I wore it every day). I wore the shrug once, and the cardi-wrap not at all (although I did wear it yesterday just to prove something to myself, I guess). The shrug would get more use but for two things: 1) it’s not really warm enough, and 2) I don’t quite like the fit. I need to tweak the pattern a bit—narrow the neck, shorten the whole thing, maybe shorten the sleeves a tad as well, and narrow the waist. It’s a bit big, and even the original shrug was a bit too long in the back—it would probably be cropped on someone with a normal torso, but on me it reaches my waist, which is not the best look. It’s comfy and I do like it with a bright-coloured top, though. The cardi-wrap… well, again there’s two problems. The first is that I snipped a hole in it accidentally back in November. Although it’s usually hidden in the folds of the drape, it still annoys me when I notice it. I should stitch it up and call that good, I guess. Then there’s the colour. Not that I don’t love it. But it doesn’t coordinate at all well with the “springy” colours I’ve been sewing lately, I’m bored as hell of my basic black tops, and I don’t like the red-on-red look. Maybe I just need to be more bold and creative in my colour combos, I don’t know… So the upshot is that time and again, despite these options, I retreated to my lone, boring, black, workhorse RTW hoodie. I guess the moral of the story is that I’m still not quite sure what I’m looking for in a topper, so it’s hard to know in advance what I want. Although I need to try to remember pockets. Pockets are very, very good.

Some other things that didn’t get worn:

the Kasia skirt. Partly the weather wasn’t overly condusive to skirts, but also me and pencil skirts don’t get along terribly well. Everytime I wear this I rip the back seam up about three inches, which then needs to be repaired and re-topstitched. Meh.

A lot of my knit tops. Some of these I love to bits, and some I’m just not overly thrilled about, and it’s hard to predict before hand which will be which. A lot depends on the fabric—not just how it fits initially, but how it launders later on. Also I’m always more excited about my newer tops than my older ones. Hmm. Have to think about that…

Two of my JJs. Although I did wear the other two once each, so I guess that’s something. Not sure why, except that they feel more summery, and I wasn’t desperate enough to do a whole lot of layering-over-a-long-sleeve-top this time around.


Anyway, I am happy about the days that I did get to wear exciting outfits, and even some of the days where I didn’t—there’s something very satisfying about even my more unglamorous days, as long as it’s a garment with construction that feels solid and satisfying. Which isn’t all my pieces by any stretch ;).

I think I’ll stop boring you with my wardrobe details now… I can’t imagine they’re of great interest to anyone else.

I am a bit torn about one thing—what I am “aspiring” to in my wardrobe. The people whose style I most admire—who are most amazing every day in their outfits, are, I’ve noticed, the ones who’ve purged the ordinary from their wardrobes. All they have is nifty—so their outfits are, by necessity, nifty. And I love the idea of that. But how does that mesh with banging off another round-necked, long-sleeved top, or another pair of jeans (even if they do have a nifty topstitched pleat in the back)? While I love wearing the odd circle-skirt or 70s dress, I don’t really want that to be all I wear.


Oh, I know. I have to leave you with a shot of my back yard. Because some things are too depressing not to share.

April 2nd, people. And what’s worse, at this time yesterday less than half the back yard had snow on it.

Somebody pinch me, this must be a nightmare, right?



Filed under Sewing

Springy Little Coat—Muslin edition

Hip hip hooray for the RTW sewalong kicking off! … once I got over the shock of realizing (silly me) that it was starting a day earlier than I had thought, on acount of being run from the future, aka the other side of the International Date Line.

Those of you on flickr may have seen this image a couple of days ago, but I thought I’d share it here for (I hope) a wider audience. (No hope of taking outside photos today, it’s dreary and with the winter storm warning in effect it’s not a matter of if we get snow, but when)

Coat skirt muslin

This is a muslin for (most) of my Springy Little Coat. And overall, I think it looks pretty good, althoughΒ I must admit, at this stage it looks remarkably similar to this. Perhaps I could’ve saved myself some pattern-drafting time and just swiped the skirt panels from the dress? Ah, well.

That aside, the skirt hem is pretty level, the width is nice, the pleats seem to fall relatively as-they-should. I think I want it a wee bit shorter (say, two inches), but that’s why we make the muslin. I was quite chipper.

Then, yesterday, I was looking at my pattern pieces, and I realized… my front skirt piece is more than an inch longer than my rear skirt piece.

This is disturbing on two levels. Not that I would manage to measure them the wrong length—I know that kind of drafting sloppiness is well within my capabilities, and I hate walking seams so I’m not surprised I didn’t catch it, either. No, what have me flummoxed are 1) how I actually managed to sew those dissimilar lengths together and have them match up perfectly (with no visible puckering, although obviously a crapload of bias easing was involved), and 2) oh crap, that means that my skirt front probably does need to be longer than the back… at least at the CF. Which makes sense since I know by under-bust seam isn’t perfectly level—it runs straight around my body, but straight around my body is at an angle to the ground, as my entire rib-cage is tilted—part and parcel of that weird postural thing called a swayback.

So I should really probably modify my skirt lengths to reflect the uneven waist—basically what I did here by accident, but on purpose, with pattern pieces that actually match up. /sigh.

In (final) MMM news,

Cowly Jacket and 70s Dress!

At long last, I managed to wear this combo yesterday, for the last day of Me-Made March. Hooray! I’ve been waiting for the weather to warm up enough for a decent photo of this combination ever since I finished the jacket. Yay! Of course, my backdrops can’t quite compete with Debi’s, but, well, that’s life. There’s a few east-coast places that can compete with Europe for architecture, but nothing this far west. And miracle of miracles, the outside photos seem to have finally captured the fact that this dress is purple, not black! πŸ˜‰

I’ve actually worn this dress three times this month, which is pretty unusual considering the weather and the dressness of it all. Yesterday, for a plus, I wasn’t even staying home all day—I had to drop the car off at the shop, pick up the rental, and then, as it turned out, pick the hubster up at work and drive him to the ER since the silly boy put something heavy and metallic through his finger and needed a number of stitches.

I may do a MMM-wrap up post later in the weekend (depending on how much real sewing I get done πŸ˜‰ ), but for now just a couple of thoughts.

  1. It was a lot easier than SSS, in terms of variety of items (especially pants!)
  2. I still wound up wearing my RTW hoodie… I guess I should break down and make a me-made version. More warm things!
  3. But they need to be in neutral colours—I don’t think I wore my red cardi-wrap once, not so much because of the hole I accidentally snipped in it back in November (although that didn’t help), but because it doesn’t go with any of my new, springy-coloured shirts. And I am thoroughly bored of my black knit tops by now…
  4. my photography this month was not great—worse than last time 😦
  5. I am a little relieved to get back to not-quite-posting-every-day. Much as I love it, it’s a bit much to maintain with everything else in life.

I’ll go into what I didn’t wear, and why, a bit more comprehensively later. For now, I just want to toss this out there, with maybe a link to the full flickr set of Me-Made March (missing, I think, only one day)


Filed under Sewing

Sticks and stones may break my bones…

But internet views will never hurt me.

Ok, I think this is my first official bandwagon post—you know, when a topic takes blogland by storm and for a week or so everyone’s covering the same theme? Well, in last couple of days the Sewaholic and the Slapdash Sewist, among others, have covered that ever-present internet boogie-man (bogey-man? πŸ˜‰ ), the creepy-picture-viewer. And, well, aside from opening my big mouth in various comments, I guess I’m feeling the need to throw my opinion out there “officially”.

In short form, my opinion is this: I refuse to let the existence of pervs out there control my behaviour, whether in real life or on the internet.

To expound a bit, any time we put any bit of our life out there—by posting on the internet, or even by leaving our houses—we are exposing some aspect of ourselves to other people, some of whom may, in fact, be thinking things that would, if we knew it, make us uncomfortable.

This tends to come up in the context of Flickr, where (unlike our regular blog posts) we

may actually find out if a creep is perusing our photos, typically when said creep favourites them. Doubtless the exact same thing is happening with our regular blog photos on the hardrives of pervs (or just horny young men) around the world, but since we have no way of knowing that, we can remain blissfully ignorant.

My central thesis, I guess, is that while I have no control at all over what the creeps of the internet do, I do have control over my own actions. In this case, over whether (and what) photos I will post, but also in how I choose to react to the fact that the nasties are, in fact, out there. I wrestled with this a lot when I was first creating online personas—I even toyed with the notion, at the beginning of this blog, of keeping it head-free. That lasted all of about three posts.

Because here’s the thing. What they are doing doesn’t affect me unless I let it. Like a kid calling you a name in grade school, it only hurts if you allow that person to have some power over you. Even less so, because most of these creepies I will never even know about. And I would much rather create an open, authentic blog, that shares my life—the sewing parts of it, anyway—honestly. Because I value the connection I have with you, my readers, the ones who participate, comment, and put up your own blog posts in turn—far more than I dread the occasional creep using my photos for his own personal gratification. None of the photos on this blog are anything I would hesitate to own up to in real life—even my vagueness about my name and location have more to do with fending off google searches from my regular “career” than a desire to keep you guys in the dark. Nothing here is an embarrassment to me. (Well, except perhaps some of those sewing disasters…). I want my blog to have the features that I look for in other blogs, and openness, honesty, and, yes, faces, are some of the things I look for.

Actual "creep-favourited" photo

This is not to say I don’t take basic precautions. My comments are moderated (though I don’t think I’ve ever had a really nasty one, just spammers), Β I keep tabs on my flickr stream (and always have) and don’t hesitate to block the odd creep. I like how nice and safe and friendly the sewing-blogland is, and I certainly want my content to reflect this. Because that’s what’s real, in that that’s what forms my experience. The phantoms of nastiness may exist, but they don’t form part of the regular give and take that is the blog community. And as long as what I’m posting is content I’m happy to own, what someone else might do with it is something I’m not going to waste my time worrying about. I have sewing to do, damn it!

(Naturally, your mileage may vary, just as your tolerance for that kid calling you names in third grade may have been different than mine. Everyone should, of course, take the route that makes them comfortable—much as I enjoy reading others’ blogs, the fact is that blogs are ultimately by and for the writers, and you need to do what’s right for you and permits you peace of mind.)

Cuff mock-up

Speaking of sewing, I did manage to make a mock-up of the inverted-box-pleat cuff for my springy coat. And I think I’m happy with it. I’m thinking I will edgestitch the pleats to keep them sharp, although not in a contrasting colour in the final project (but the red was still in my machine from the jean jacket).

A better view of the pleat.

In Me-Made March news,

MMM day 30

gee, where have you seen these items before? I keep planning to wear something fancy, and then wimping out. I’ll doll up tomorrow, I promise…

Cowl top
skinny jeans


Filed under Sewing

Apparently I am learning how to sew

Finally stitched!

In particular, when it came time to stitch up the “waist” band on this cropped little jean jacket, I was able to topstitch along the entire length, from the outside, and successfully catch the underside along the whole length! Cue bugles, triumphal marches, and possibly even choirs of angels.

Of course, the nice, crisp hand of my denim and the straight edge didn’t hurt, but still, I feel like I was very careful feeling my way along, making sure the fabric was where it needed to be on the bottom and all that. I felt like I knew the little tricks the fabric was likely to pull, and what I had to watch out for—and how to watch out for it. Woohoo!

Back view

Which is not to say that this jacket is anything like flawless (I did mention the collar points before, didn’t I?), but on the whole it came together pretty well. The fabric was thin (for denim) and crisp enough that my machine did the buttonholes with scarcely a whimper.

If I decide to do another such jacket, I’ll increase the bust shaping in the front, as it’s a bit minimal—not that it doesn’t fit, mind you, but when your assets are, ah, modest, a bit more shaping that nature strictly requires can be a fine thing. Also the “waist” band is pretty loose—not problematically so, but it could have an inch or so less ease without even beginning to feel snug.

I’m a little regretful that I didn’t topstitch the front sleeve seam… I suppose I could still do it if I really wanted to, I’m just a little doubtful of my ability to do it neatly.

The buttons look as snazzy and shiny as I had hoped. I had two sizes available; I used the larger ones for the front and the smaller size for the pockets and cuffs.

Cuff (linked)

For the cuff buttons, I linked two buttons together with thread and blanket-stitched along the little length of thread between them to make a short bar. This was kinda a pain as the thread kept trying to miss the button, but while the end result was a bit messy, it doesn’t show, so I shan’t complain.

I went on about the construction at fair length here, so I won’t belabour it too much more. Incidentally, as you can see in the interior shots in the other post, there really are little pockets under those chest flaps, although they’re so tiny (and in such a location) that I probably won’t actually use them much. I’m still glad they’re there. Flaps without pockets would annoy me—but apparently flaps with vestigial pockets are fine.

Now, I just need the weather to shape up enough so I can wear it. Today is the first day in over a week that it hasn’t snowed, so that’s a good sign!


In Me-Made March News,

MMM day 29

I can’t believe that Me-Made March is almost done! I’ll try to spare you my requisite freak-out about time passing… it’s not that I’m that messed up about growing older, but when every month is one less of funding you have left, looking forward to the future is a bit hard. I’m sure everyone who’s ever done contract work knows the feeling.

Today I’m wearing my skinny jeans and this blue short-sleeved Lydia top (pre-dating many of the tweaks that made this pattern actually fit me), which incidentally is the exact same outfit I started off the month in. But I have my cropped jacket, so that’s different, at least (even if the denim of the jacket and the denim of the pants don’t match at all)

I have to admit, I find these cropped jackets surprisingly nice for wearing around the house. Someone commented that their tummy would get cold, but I really find that having the extra layer around my upper body is warm enough—and anything that gets me out of my bunnyhug* is a plus in my world. If I could just train myself to wear slippers, I’d be snug as a bug.

*Central Saskatchewanese for “hoodie.” And no, Saskatchewanese is not a word.


Filed under Sewing

More fun than a barrel of monkeys



This is exciting. It will also be a bit challenging, especially combined with the RTW tailoring sewalong.

So an old friend came by yesterday with a project. She’s in the final stages of putting together her debut album (yay!) and wanted a frilly, over-the-top tailcoat for a photo-shoot. So we did some discussing, trawled Fabricland for suitably sumptuous fabric—the paisley corduroy is actually quite a lot more subdued than we were initially thinking, but Fabricland’s sumptuous-crushed-velvet selection is sadly understocked (go figure). Still, I love the fabric we did come home with, and I’m (not so) secretly hoping that there will be enough of the corduroy left over for me to get a little cute something out of it, too.

I’m planning to use the M-sewing tailcoat pattern, with considerable modification as you can see if you squint (or click through for full size) at the sketch on the photo. Fortunately Modern Pattern Design has diagrams for most of the modifications I’m going to need to make, although I’m still not quite sure about the collar—mostly because I’m still not quite sure exactly how I want it to look. Will figure that out soon enough.

In Me-Made March news

Here’s photos for yesterday and today. Again not overly glamorous, which I will blame on the continuing snow. Yes, it’s still snowing.

Me-Made March 27

Me-Made March 28

MMM 27
Cowl-sleeve jacket
Super-cowl top
skinny cargoes

MMM 28
raglan-sleeve top
skinny cargoes


Filed under Sewing

The Great Thread Crisis of 2011

Cropped Jean Jacket---progress report.

It is with some difficulty that I am refraining from titling this post “The Great Snow Crisis”, since it’s snowed, I think, every single day this week. But since I’m trying to keep this blog about sewing, rather than the weather (something it can be very hard for a Canadian to do…), I’m instead going to restrict myself to lamenting about thread.

In particular, my lack of it.

Not just the lack of red thread which is preventing me from

Cropped jean-jacket, rear view

finishing my cropped jean-jacket—that was almost to be expected, since I started the project with less than two medium-sized spools and the triple-stitch topstitching I’ve been using is extremely thread-hungry—but I’ve also run out of basic black, of which I always have at least two and often three or four spools kicking around. So naturally I figured, when I used up my last one, that I must have one somewhere. Apparently not. Even worse, I’m completely unable to rectify the situation as I’m home carless today as the hubby is working, and retaining the car on a day when he’s working requires getting up at an obscenely early hour and driving him halfway across town to work. OK, it’s not halfway, but in any decently-sized city (as opposed to this monstrosity of urban sprawl we inhabit) it would be halfway. Were I in full health, and feeling masochistic, I could bundle up the children and walk down to Zellers, which is my nearest likely source of halfway-decent thread*, but the two-block walk to the grocery store the other day still almost did me in, and the thought of trying to wrangle children all the way to Zellers, in the snow… well, let’s just say it’s unpleasant. Times like these are the only ones where I miss the stroller days, although I never had a properly snow-worthy stroller anyways. Anyway, jean jacket. Frustrating to be so close—although really, I’m getting to the point where “close” becomes “annoying finishing details”… buttonholes etc.

So, details…

Collar attachment

I used Sherry’s technique for putting in the collar, which is very lovely and saved me from hand-slip-stitching the interior, which is my usual fall-back. My only complaint is that her method for tacking the facing to the shoulder-seams didn’t really work with how I was trying to finish the shoulder seams on mine, so I’ll have to tack those down by hand. Otherwise, it’s a treat, though.

See how cool my cuffs will be?

I decided to go a little whimsical for the cuffs because, well, I could, so I’m going for a sort of flared, cuff-linked look. This actually went together better than I thought it might, and the sharp, pointed ends on the cuffs came out much better than the ones on the collar.

The sleeve-caps have a bit too much height for denim (which doesn’t ease for shite), but I think what will be a very reasonable amount of ease for normal fabrics. I did end up taking in the shoulder about 1 cm, which suggests that the original shoulder-length is fine after all (I had increased it by 1 cm when I graded up the pattern after my first muslin). Armscye depth and range of mobility seem to be good. There are a few wrinkles forming to the front of the sleeve, but mild enough that I think I’ll leave them be at least for the moment.

Jacket closeup, with interior shot.

The collar still needs some work. I think the height of the stand is about right as it’s folded (in the upper images), but as you can see in the rear shot the roll doesn’t quite cover this in the back. And I need to give up the dream of sharply-curved front points and just have sharp points… I’m not capable, even with severely shortened stitches, of making such a narrow curve neatly. Not twice, anyway (and certainly not the six times including topstitching on the jean jacket).

One little fact that slipped my mind when I was drafting the front band/facing is that

Interior closeup

since I didn’t subtract anything from the CF for the band, I actually added 3cm across the front. In my head I thought of this as overlap, but of course, only half of it is. My bad. It doesn’t seem to mess with the fit, particularly, so I’m not going to bother with it this time, but it’s something to keep in mind next time I want a jacket with a front band. I imagine you learn this sort of thing in pattern-drafting classes, as opposed to when you just decide to jump in without having a clue what you’re doing.

I’m going to use some of my haul of vintage metal buttons from last week, which should give a nice added bling.

In Me-Made March news,

you can see I’m wearing the 70s dress today. I can get away with this because I’m going nowhere at all, and was hoping to photograph the cowl-sleeved jacket at some point today. I haven’t because I’m still lacking a really good place to take pictures (as you can tell by the poor-light shots of the jacket) and there’s no point in taking a second round of half-ass photos. I will just say that I love, love, love how this dress looks with a cropped little *something* on top—be it the cowl-sleeved jacket, the 50s shrug, or even the jean jacket, which is completely the wrong sort of style for it.

*I find it a bit disturbing that I can buy a sewing machine at at least three different places within walking-distance, but fabric at none of them.


Filed under Sewing

Lots and lots of little bits of paper

Playing with paper (MMM day 24)

As I continue to try and fail to shake off the dregs of this cold, I’ve been messing with paper, seeing how far I can push my blastula-stage pattern-drafting skills. As part of the greater goal of the Springy Coat, I wanted to test a two-piece sleeve and a tall-standing collar. For whatever reason, I find it more satisfying to try this on an (at least attempted) actual garment.

I’ve been considering making a cropped jean-jacket for myself pretty much since last summer when I made my children jean jackets and discovered that I could, with a little wriggling, actually get into Tyo’s. At the time I had considered just trying to grade up (and shape) the Burda kids’ pattern I was using, but, now that I have this fitted, cropped jacket bodice, well, why not use that?

Of course, jean-jackets aren’t traditionally princess-seamed. So I needed to approximate the darted block that the princess-seamed version would’ve been derived from. This was not a particularly scientific process, which mostly involved tracing out the pieces adjacent to each other, using the gaps as the legs of the dart, and estimating an apex which may or may not turn out to be in anything like the right place. Ah well. Once I had that estimated, I should’ve made a muslin of the darted bodice (which would be useful for all kinds of things…) but I didn’t—I skipped straight ahead to marking off the seam-lines for yokes and panels and doing my best to incorporate my darts into the taper between the panels. I even drafted a front-band/facing (granted not until after I had all the other pieces pinned on my fabric and realized it was missing, but still.

I don’t think I want to admit too much about my process for drafting the two-piece sleeve. There’s plenty of instructions on how to do this out there, and Claire was even generous enough to email me hers, and I still just went ahead and winged it. The finished product looks kinda generally similar to the sleeve I used for my winter coat, so I’m hopeful that it will work.

Jean-jacket pieces

Hopeful enough, anyway, that I went through my denim stash, and eventually settled on the same light-weight, sparkly denim I used for the kids’ jackets. There was just around a metre left, which as it turns out is just about enough to lay out a cropped jean-jacket pattern on, leaving enough left over to make the bottom band which I haven’t actually bothered to draft a pattern for yet (I still have trouble with rectangular pattern pieces… it always seems easier to just measure. Except for pieces to be cut on the bias, anyway…)

I settled on some red bias-tape from stash for binding the seams (I know a jean-jacket should be flat-felled, but I like the flash of colour from the bound seams), red thread for topstitching, and the last remnants of red cotton from my very first JJ blouse (which in tun was the remnant from a dance skirt a few years back) for the under-collar and pocket lining. I probably could have squeezed the undercollar from the denim, but I like the contrast of the coloured undercollar. Since the red is basically a cotton gauze, I interfaced with some super-light knit interfacing, which gave it a better body, except for the pocket-lining part, anyway.

And I started merrily sewing away. Seam were bound, tops were stitched, and I would probably be there still, rather than writing this post… except that my pocket flaps have gone AWOL.

So until they surface, I guess I’ll be tidying my kitchen.

In Me Made March news,

MMM 25, with accessory.

more unglamorous shots from a singularly unglamorous week. Yesterday, pictured at the top of the post, and was another day of not-leaving-the-house-trying-to-keep-my-lungs-in-my-chest. Today the children have no school (boo) but student-led conferences (which is like parent-teacher interviews but less fun), so I had to make myself a wee bit more presentable.

Not especially successful cowl top

Ellen Pants

Winter Coat


Oh, yes, and in the photo from yesterday I’m wearing my very first Jalie Jeans, which just shows how far down the wearables list I’m getting ;)… they’re stubbornly refusing to disintegrate on me, but they are definitely off the A list, mostly due to poor topstitching, although the fabric (which I never liked, but it was cheap) doesn’t help. And of course my Kimono Lady Grey, which you’ve already seen umpteen-bajillion times. I really need to make myself more sweaters. Don’t worry, that’s in the works too, but first I need to get all these little jackets out of my system…


Filed under Sewing

The joy and pain of thrift store patterns

Thrift store buttons!

There’s been a bit of a sewing-type drought at my local Value Village for the last couple of months, so it was with some excitement that I realized there were actually fabrics on the rack this time, not just encroaching curtains, and even a few baggies of random zippers (expensive and not intriguing) and metal buttons (inexpensive and in sets still on their cards—yay!). Needless to say I walked out with the buttons. I managed to resist the fabrics, mostly due to excessive stashing last week.

Simplicity 8613, from 1978

There were also a few 70s patterns, in a misses’ 12, which is close enough to my size. I restrained myself, though, and just picked up the cutest one: isn’t this an adorable jacket? And look at that neat little waistband shaping on the skirt! Pattern includes jacket, skirt, and pants.

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Buying thrift store patterns (as opposed to from a reputable second-hand pattern vendor) is an obvious crapshoot. No way are the employees going through every single envelope to make sure the pattern is complete, never mind in good condition—not when they’re selling for less than a buck apiece.

Yup, this adorable pattern is incomplete. Half the pants are missing, as is that cute little waistband detail, and the first page of the instructions.

Fortunately for me, all the pieces of the jacket (what really drew me to it) are there (uncut!), and the instruction page that is left is the one for the jacket as well. So tragedy is averted. Most of the skirt pattern is there, too, except for that cute waistband, which I guess will be good if I get the hankering for an a-line, mid-length skirt.

Well, it could happen…

So, at least at this point, tragedy has been averted. Not that I really needed another jacket to want to make up. But hey, I’m sure I have enough fabric!

In Me-Made March news,

a fairy boring (not to mention weird hair) day. Sorry, kittens (or, as Patty would say, platypuses), it can’t be circle skirts and fluffy shirts every day. On the upside, it’s sunny!

Me-Made March, day 17

The Frankenpattern shirt
Skinny Cargoes

Oh, and happy St. Patrick’s day, to all you who are out there getting soused in honour of it ;). Apparently they started the breathalyzer-stops here at six AM this morning…


Filed under Sewing

Measuring Patterns

Pattern measuring---Click through for full-size image

Before I forget, thanks EVERYONE for your wonderful comments on my blogiversary yesterday. It made for a completely warm and fuzzy day (in between wrangling children, appointments, and driving clear across town six times… and mine is not a small town :P)

One of the most interesting things I learned asking my mom about home-sewing in her youth was that the rise of the muslin is a comparatively recent event. I’m sure fine couturiers have always been making them, but when my mom was learning to sew, they were considered a waste of time and—worse—fabric.

Sew and Save by Madeleine Hunt (published 1953) seems to agree—I don’t think there’s a single mention of making a test garment in the entire book, despite a lot of emphasis on fit (and minimizing figure flaws, can’t have our flaws showing, ladies, πŸ˜‰ ). Instead, they measured.

And measured and measured and measured.

The book has twelve full pages dedicated to measuring patterns, going over every common type of pattern at the time—princess seams, kimono sleeves, gored skirts, sleeves. I’m too lazy to scan them all right now, so I’m just including the ones that are relevant to me right

Pattern measuring---Princess Seam; click through for full size image

now, as I sit here trying to fit Built by Wendy’s “Fitted Jacket” pattern to me: Measuring an armhole princess seam. Sorry for the poor look of the scans, the browser (or at least, the one I use) does a craptacular job of shrinking B&W scans. If you click through for the full-size version they look fine.

So I should probably back up a bit. I want to use Wendy’s “Fitted Jacket Pattern” as the basis for my Springy Coat, which it is more-or-less perfect for, but I’ve never made any of Wendy’s patterns before. Stage one, of course, is picking my size.

So, scanning through her sizing chart, I settled on XS. I know, smokin’ the crack. But the bust and hip measurements were both right. Shoulder and waist measurements are in the small-to-medium range (typical for me).

Built By Wendy Fitted Jacket pattern pieces

What I SHOULD have done was take out my handy-dandy tape measure and follow Madeleine Hunt’s advice (made extra-easy by the fact that the Wendy patterns don’t have seam-allowances.) It would have revealed to me that the 33″ bust and 26″ waist on the pattern chart is the actual size of the pattern pieces. As in, without wearing ease.

So, yeah, the pattern’s a mite small. I will throw up the initial muslin shots for your amusement. The top of the front is the only place where it closes. The rest varies from a wee bit too small to way too small (like 3″ too small at the waist).

Jacket bodice muslin, front view

The upper bust actually looks about right. Below there it gets… well, snug.

Muslin---side view

On the up side, the length of the armscye and the level of the waist (areas I often have to modify) feel about right. I’m a bit torn on the shoulders—I have a feeling they should be about 1.5cm wider, so that the seam falls about where the end of the seam-allowance is. I like where the princess seam falls, though.

Muslin---back view

The back fits fairly well, even with minimal swayback wrinkling (this won’t be an issue in my coat, but I imagine if I get this fitted I’ll want to use the pattern for other things, too. You may have noticed I have a thing for princess seams? The side-seam does tug to the back a little bit, although not much. I didn’t clip the seam-allowances at the underarm, which is contributing to the diagonal wrinkling on the side panels, as is my tugging on the front.

I now have two options, of course—start again with, say, a size S, or just grade up the pattern as traced. Since I’m happy with the lengths in this one, I’m tempted to just grade up–adding a slice of width to the CF and CB pieces could easily give me most of the width I need, both around and at the shoulders, and reducing the taper of the princess seams below the bust (equivalent of narrowing the dart there) can give me the rest. Also pulling out the big tissue sheets to trace is annoying.

So next step—sleeves. The sleeves as drafted are really slim, one piece with a symmetrical sleeve cap. I’d prefer an asymmetrical cap (I’m borderline on needing a forward shoulder adjustment) and a two piece. I’m torn on the slimness—I like the look and have pretty scrawny arms, but this is going to be a lined jacket, too. And yes, I have compared them to the sleeve I used for my winter coat (which is pretty darn slim) and it’s about 2″ narrower around.

… time to get measuring. πŸ˜‰

In Me-Made March news,

I wore my fluttery cowl again, but it spent most of the day buried under the Kimono Lady Grey (boo hoo). It’s warm enough that I don’t really have an excuse for the wool pants, except that I wanted to make sure they got an airing this month.



Filed under Sewing

Cowl Finale

Cowlneck the fourth

Well, for the moment. Like Steph, I think I’m done with this project. I’ve made four knit cowly tops this week, all but one of which are wearable. (And I have hopes of salvaging the fourth, possibly by stitching down the folds or something…)

This one was supposed to be the ultimate. And, to be honest, I think it looks kick-ass in the pictures. That is pretty much what I was going for.

The devil, as always, is in the details.

The biggest one, I think, is the most inevitable—the large cowl which permits those lovely underbust folds doesn’t, in fact, stay in place particularly well; any time I raise my arms or lean over, it comes untucked, creating a front that just looks, well, poofy. I have a feeling the original top would’ve had the same problem unless (as I half-suspect) the “underbust” folds in the photo are created by tugging down on the cowl, rather than falling naturally that way—in which case in the shirt as worn they wouldn’t even be there at all…

Completely my fault, on the other hand, are the hole I

A bit of a closer look

accidentally snipped in the front neckline while trimming the binding, the cowl facing that doesn’t fall nicely to the inside (I sewed it down a hair or two wrong on the inside), and the fact that the sleeves are sewed on with the wrong side of the fabric facing out. Fortunately the last is virtually undetectable—anyone looking that close is going to be much more struck by my wonky stitching. /sigh. I was trying to take my time with this last version, but I think my subconscious was against me.

For those of you who’ve been thoroughly confused with what I’ve been doing (and who’ve stuck with me despite it πŸ˜‰ ) I made up a quick little diagram of the steps I took. The tricky part, again, is the details—how long and wide of a drape, how much to curl back the front pattern piece.

Pattern alteration---click image to see full size

And I think that’s enough of messing with cowls for, well, at least a couple of weeks…

After all, Sherry’s tailoring sewalong begins in just a few weeks, and I need to have a pattern of some kind ready for that. I think I’m going to try to create my own based on the Built By Wendy jacket book (which Ali just did a great overview of). I’m thinking princess-seamed bodice, empire waist with A-line below, thigh-length, maybe an inverted box pleat or two in the skirt portion… still haven’t decided on a collar or single- or double-breasted… anyway, I’m sure I’ll have a post on that in a day or two, anyway. But I will still have to muslin etc., and decide if I can make the sleeves two piece etc.

So much to sew, so little time… πŸ˜‰


Filed under Sewing