Sunday, March 22, 2020

WFH Wardrobe: Lane Raglan Caftan-Tunic Thingy

Hi Everyone. I hope you're all managing through the current global pandemic. It's been a long, weird week, and, at least here in the U.S., it's far from over. All week I've been feeling grateful for so many things--my health, being holed up with my wonderful husband and best friend in the world, the fact that I can easily and seamlessly work from home--but also specifically for the practice of sewing, which gives me something to focus on when I'm feeling anxious. And since I've been under a mandated shelter-in-place rule, I am doubly grateful that I'm already kind of an introvert with lots of creative, indoor hobbies and a very healthy fabric stash.  

We got the word last Friday at work about WFH before the shelter-in-place mandate, so I had already been dreaming about a hoodie sweatshirt dress and was thinking about different patterns. See my Procreate sketch below. 

I was considering the Seamwork Rudy, Seamwork Skipper member exclusive, or the Hey June Handmade Lane Raglan. They all had features I liked, but in the end laziness won out since I already owned a paper version of the Lane Raglan. No printing, no taping.  

As you can see from the finished version on Eva, I ended up with less of a cocoon shape, which was intentional. I decided that a giant hoodie might look too, well, giant  and sloppy if it was loose all over. My final version is semi-fitted with high slits up the sides for easy mobility AND comfort. I plan to wear with capris length leggings or bike shorts, so the high slits won't be a problem. 

My apartment can get pretty drafty, so I opted for thumbholes in the wristbands. 

Without further ado, here are the deets:
  • Fabric is Organic Cotton Spandex Knit II  in navy from Stonemountain and Daughter fabrics. It costs $20.50 per yard and is nice and thick and totally worth it. I have enough left over for a pair of leggings or bike shorts. 
  • Hey June Handmade gets bonus points for offering an optional larger cup size bodice. 
  • Size 1X with the following mods: lengthened at the straight hem line 12.75  inches; shortened sleeves by 2.5 inches, which turned out to be the perfect length--not too long and bunched, not too sort so that the sleeves stretch when I move. Dumb luck or an educated guess based on past mods.  
  • Going forward, I should always shorten my hoods. Just like I have shorter arms and legs, likewise I have a shorter neck. 
  • Just happened to have some leftover cording in my stash from making knitting project bags
  • The thumbhole wrist band instructions were comprehensive but still a brain bender. I found it easiest to just play with the bands until it made sense to me. 
  • The Lane raglan doesn't come with a kangaroo pocket, so I used the Seamwork Rudy. My printer's not working so I just eyeballed it based on the drawing of the pattern piece. 
  • I didn't plan to have the side slits. If I'd planned it, I would have extended out the slit part a bit so that I could fold it under.

I love that feeling when you have an idea to make something and it turns out even better than you imagined. I think this would be super cosy for international flights...whenever flying becomes an option again.

So that's the latest. I've been sewing like crazy because of all the anxiety-inducing news so I hope to have more completed projects to share soon. 

Please, please take care of yourself! Stay home and away from others as much as possible and wash those hands. 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Using Procreate for My Sewing Projects

Hiya! Hope everyone is doing well and, most importantly, is healthy. I know things are scary right now, but I'm just trying to stay calm and wash my hands like a maniac.

I've been wanting to write this post for a while now. Partly, because I'm always so interested in process and thought it would be fun to share how I've been playing around with different designs because it's been blowing my own little creative world wide open. I'm not here to sell Procreate. There are a lot of different programs out there depending on your goals and preferences, not to mention a good old fashioned sketchbook which is always great to have when you're in an analog kind of mood. I'm just excited about what I've been doing and wanted to share.

When I sorted through my scraps last year and organized them into three bins of shame, I immediately started thinking of ideas for things to make with them. And then I fell in love...with quilting. It's a scrapbusting no-brainer, but it's also just so awesome! Putting the fabrics together, the different shapes and color combos, the overall composition, feels as natural and creative as painting and drawing. While working on one of my first projects, I kept saying to Beej, "This is just like painting. Except there's all this cool texture!" So here's a few projects that started with procreate sketches and evolved into tangible, useful objects.

Knitting Project Bags

I have a couple of friends who are hard-core knitters, so I made them project bags for Christmas. As you can see from my Procreate sketches, I didn't follow the sketch exactly; instead, I used it as a starting point. My favorite thing about working with the app, is that I can keep duplicating my initial sketch and try out as many variations as I want. The bags themselves are as simple as can be. Just a boxed bottom with a drawstring along the top. I added a fabric tab and a button to the inside as a yarn guide.


After making a quilt for my bed (shown on bottom left), I decided I needed a new pillow cover to match, but I didn't want it to be too matchy-matchy.  To achieve this I used the same colors as my quilt but a different design. I also wanted to try sewing curves, and the two triangle/mountains in my pillow mirror the two diamonds in my quilt. I love how this turned out and truly feel happy every time I make my bed. This design is a slight variation on a pillow project in the awesome quilting book Simple Geometric Quilting, by Laura Preston. I can't recommend this book enough if you want to try quilting but are feeling a bit intimidated. Laura's explanations are crystal clear, and her projects are modern and elegant.


I really like sewing curves and, weirdly, find it easier than half square triangles. I just folded this quilted piece in half and boxed the bottom to make an easy zip pouch. I'm already planning more zip pouches to give as gifts.

Tote Bag

I used the Nummi Tote pattern from the Named book, Breaking the Pattern. I added a small inside pocket and magnetic snaps to keep things more secure.  I love how this turned out, but if I make another one, I will tweak it a bit:
  • I like the look of the leather straps and rivets, but the rivets were cheap so they don't feel all that secure. Also, the leather straps are only finished on one side, so little bits of rawhide come off on my corduroy jacket. I may just use fabric or twill tape and sew it into the seam like most bags. 
  • I need to invest in some slightly heavier interfacing. All I had was lightweight fusible for garments, which just does not cut the mustard if you want to make a durable bag. 
  • This is quite a large tote. It would be very easy to reduce the size since it's only one pattern piece. 
  • There is a cool lapped seam technique along the bottom, which gives the bottom added strength, that I plan to incorporate into future totes. 
  • I think my procreate study would also make a cool wall quilt. I tried to add a break in the horizontal strip, but I'm not really loving how that part turned out. 

Color Blocking

And it's not just quilting projects! I had a lot of fun visualizing variations for the Collins top that I will eventually make.

Here's a quick list of my favorite features when planning projects with Procreate.

  • As I mentioned previously, being able to copy/duplicate drawings or even just a specific layer is HUGE. 
  • Also, layers. Being able to use this feature, but in a way that feels more like drawing is awesome. I work at a desk computer all day, so it's nice to work on a tablet, using my stylus (apple pencil), while curled up on the couch. It's also way easier on my hands than using a mouse with PSD and Illustrator. 
  • The stacks feature helps me organize multiple projects, which helps tremendously since I'm a multiple-projects-kind-of-gal. 
  • Color palettes. You can create custom palettes for all your projects. For my scraps, I like to take pictures and sample the colors so that my sketches and color combining are based on the reality of what I have on hand. I'm also working on a couple of quilts that are not scrap-based. For these, I like to take a screen shot of the color on the Kona website and sample it. 
  • Resources: I'm by no means an expert on Procreate, and this post isn't really meant to be comprehensive. There are tons of resources on youtube, though. Bardot Brush is probably my favorite. Her tutorials are fun AND informative. Her intro to Procreate video really helped me get started. 
  • Downside: So far I've been waxing enthusiastic, but the major downside is that this program creates raster images. If you need vector for hi-res printing purposes, Procreate isn't there yet. But if you're working with vector images, you already know that. :)
So thanks for indulging me in this rather long post about process. There are still times when I want to break out my colored pencils and/or watercolors, but the convenience and added features of this and other drawing programs have really opened up my creativity. I'm always looking for ways to build a daily drawing/art-making process, and, so far, this is really working for me. 

Would love to know how you channel your creativity and come up with ideas for projects. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

PJs for Beej: Free Pattern

Hey there! I'm popping on here for a quick minute to share my experience with a free pattern by 5 out of 4 Patterns. I credit free patterns with helping me venture more quickly into sewing by providing a low-risk learning experience. I'm always so appreciative, so I like to give a grateful shout out to those companies that provide the occasional freebie.

A few weeks ago, Beej requested a pair of pajama pants. It's been cold, and he'd been sleeping in his sweats. I looked at buying a pattern from Wardrobe by Me that looked like a one-piece per leg wonder, but they didn't include pockets. Beej had requested pockets, and can you blame him? Who doesn't want pockets? He also made some smart ass comment about needing pockets for his earplugs when I start snoring, but that's another story...

A quick google search for pajama patterns landed me at 5 out of 4 Patterns, a new-to-me pattern company. The pattern is a standard pj pant, unisex, with a good size range and can be found here in the freebie section.

 As I've mentioned in the past, while I don't sew for Beej often, when I do I like to look for ways to customize his garments. He's a huge SF Giants fan, so I went for his team colors of orange and black. (Not my favorite combo, personally, but I'm not the one wearing them.) I used a scrap from a Thread Theory hoodie I made him a while back for the trim at the bottom. You know, after 6+ years of sewing, this is the first time I've made or used trim. It seems kind of like something I would see in a beginner sewing book, like rikrak or something. At any rate, it was actually kind of fun. I think a cuff with piping would be more elevated, but I really wanted to use what I had on hand. Here's how I made the trim:

  • Cut two 1.5" pieces of fabric that were long enough to encircle the stitched hemline.
  • Because my orange fabric was a knit, albeit fairly stable, I used some hem tape (AKA Steam a Seam) as a stabilizer. 
  • Turned the fabric over to the wrong side and folded fabric on either side to meet in the middle (like bias tape). 
  • While folding in, I threaded the hem tape in the middle and ironed as I went. 
  • Then I sewed the trim down along the top and bottom to secure it. That's it!
Excuse the folded laundry in the corner!
Some sizing/modification/pattern details. 
  • I made a size medium based on Beej's hip measurement. 
  • Beej is 5'9" so I removed 2" at the "shorten here" line. This worked out perfectly. 
  • The instructions were pretty good. I appreciated the reminder to sew down the inseam pockets so that they don't migrate towards the back. They also explained two different methods for sewing the elastic. Since I serged the top, I chose to stretch and sew my elastic directly on, flip down, and sew down again rather than the casing method. 
  • Per the instructions, I made two button holes for feeding the drawstring through. The drawstring ended up a bit too short and will be replaced. 
This project was was super easy, and now Beej has  pajama pants that perfectly match the hoodie I made for him. He also looks pretty dang cute, IMO. 

The best part about sewing for Beej, though, is how much he appreciates the things I make for him. Even a simple pair of pjs! You would think he'd never owned pajamas before. The other day when we were getting ready for work, I noticed him carefully folding them and placing them under his pillow. It made me feel so good!

That's all for now. Thank you for reading and have a great week!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Wiksten Top: Where I'm At

Hello! To start, I'm confused by this pattern's name, and after looking at several hashtags, I don't think I'm the only one. Is it "Wiksten Top" or "Wiksten Shift Top"? I'm guessing the former over the latter since "shift top" doesn't really make sense, and there's also a shift dress included. But then what do you call the longer dress? Is that also a shift? For the purposes of this blog post, let's just agree on  "Wiksten Top."

So I received this pattern from Beej for Christmas—heavy hinting was involved—and I knew immediately that I would use some pretty linen from Blackbird Fabrics for this simple shape. This pattern LOVES linen, and I love sewing with win win. 

I've heard a few folks suggest that this pattern might be a bit overrated. Maybe...hard to say. I love simple tops and simple sewing in general. Sometimes proportions can be masterfully subtle, too, and that's where I think this pattern works for a lot of people. On the other hand, I imagine that there are a lot of similar patterns out there that do not cost $25. It would also be pretty easy to hack from a similar pattern, and there's a FREE pattern that's quite similar: the Tessuti Athena Top. But, you know, I enjoyed the luxury of a really lovely printed pattern and have been curious after seeing so many pretty plus-size versions out there.

Speaking of pretty plus-size versions...    :)

Verdict: I like it! So much that I made another version in black striped linen. It's a little art teacher chic, but that's a look that I like—especially as I get older. 

I like that it transitions well for spring and summer, fits in well with the rest of my wardrobe, and works so well with my favorite woven fabric. I don't know if I'll make the other versions since I'm not a big dress wearer, but I do have a couple of weddings to go to this year, so maybe...

Here are the deets:

  • Size 18. My bust put me in a size 20, but I could tell that there would be lots of ease. I definitely recommend sizing down.
  • For the blue version, I didn't touch the drop shoulder and, instead, hemmed the sleeve 2.5 inches. It made the sleeve more of a cuff. For the black stripe version, I shortened the drop sleeve one half inch and hemmed the sleeve 1.5 inches, which is what I prefer. I think I will shorten the drop another half inch next time. 
  • Seam allowances are 3/8 for most of the construction. Except that you sew the sleeve on at 3/4 inch and then trim down to a 3/8 SA. I have no idea why you wouldn't just sew it at 3/8 like the rest of the garment. Would be interesting to know why that was. 
  • There is a misprint on the yoke pattern piece: It says that the yoke is for the shift and top, but the top doesn't have a yoke. I figured this out by looking at the pictures and instructions; however, I would have been annoyed if I had needlessly cut a yoke. 
  • I'm proud that I took the few extra minutes to make sure my pocket stripes matched. Alas, I did not have enough fabric to do that with the front and back. 
So those are my takeaways from a pattern that I've been wanting to try for a while. Lately, I've been so into learning about quilting that I don't really feel like working on complicated garments, and I've been really into wearing loose shift tops—oh, hey, I guess it is a shift top!

Thanks so much for reading and have a great week!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

2019 Top 5

Hello! As usual, I'm tardy to the Top 5 party. 2019 was stressful and didn't start off great, but I'm happy to say I got through it and hit upon some personal and creative growth along the way. I also made some pretty nice things. Although I haven't counted, I think I sewed fewer garments. I think this is because I really like my current wardrobe and how it has developed over the years. I'm less likely to feel like I have to make every little thing. Black leggings? No way. A well-fitting bra? No thanks, I'm happy with my favorite brand. I'm also trying to be mindful of fabric purchases, my stash size, and the accumulation of scraps.

Top 5 Sewing Hits

Clockwise from top left. 
  • This is my third pair of CCP Carolyn Pajamas and definitely my favorite pair. Flannel is such a joy to sew and is so comfortable. I finally understand why it's so popular. 
  • My Papercut Patterns Stacker Jacket in a soft, wide whale corduroy from Blackbird. This is a great little pattern, comes together like a dream, and is such a great everyday jacket. I also like that I made a special pocket for my phone that fits perfectly. So slick!
  • My Paper Theory Zadie Jumpsuit. I am definitely on board the Zadie love train. I love how this garment looks fabulous on everyone, but more importantly, it's how this makes people feel. Of course, I can't speak for everyone, but just google image or hashtag the zadie and look at all of those confident, smiling faces. It's also never a bad thing to be swathed in linen. 
  • My Seamwork Carter Tunic. I reach for this about once a week. I'm wearing it now! I love how the square neckline (my first one) mirrors the ikat squares. Just a nice marrying of fabric with pattern. 
  • My Paper Theory Kabuki Tee.  This is another one that I reach for on a weekly basis. I took it slow with the square sleeve and it paid off. 
Top 4 Misses

Clockwise starting at top left

  • Cashmerette Cedar Dolman top. To no one's surprise, the misses don't always make it to the blog. I had been wanting a tie top for a while and think it's a great look, especially if you're like me and have round tummy, but it's a bit too casual to feel special. I tend to wear it on weekends when I'm doing my laundry and don't mind looking kind of sloppy. To be fair, this is part of an active wear group of patterns. I may make this again in a knit and see if I like it more. 
  • I actually made three Cielo tops and two pairs of Pietra pants, and none of them made it to the blog. I like the pants and the tops are certainly wearable. I was excited about a fast and easy sew and didn't take the time to fit it for my height, etc. Also, the viscose noil doesn't work as well with a facing. I should have used a binding instead.
  • My Sew Liberated Matcha top. I made this pattern in a black crepe, and I absolutely love it. With this version, I don't hate it or anything, but I wish I had not serged the neckline facing. It tends to flip out and show and isn't a worthy finishing for such a pretty fabric and neckline. 
  • My Klum House Fremont Tote. I really loved this when I made it, but, sadly it hasn't held up well. A few of the rivets have fallen out, and the wax never fully cured. Also, the beautiful indigo ikat I used for the lining bleeds a bit, which isn't ideal for a bag that I can't wash. Eventually, I will salvage this project and re-set the rivets. They came off during a busy time for work, so I ended up just buying a bag from Madewell, which has held up fabulously. 
Top 2019 Experiences

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, 2019 was a banner year for growth and while challenging particularly at the beginning, there were many rewarding personal experiences. 

  • Becoming interesed (actually obsessed!) with modern quilting  remains one of my most rewarding creative endeavors.  Sorting through all my scraps really impressed upon me how much fabric I consume, and how many lovely pieces were still usable. Be warned, there will be more quilting stories around here. 
  • I never blogged about it, but this summer Beej and I went to Berlin and Prague. I love traveling with Beej. We always come back from our trips invigorated by all we've seen and the adventures we've shared. I didn't do any fabric shopping in either city, but I did happen upon a super cool textile exhibit at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.
  • I fell down a big ole rabbit hole this summer making surface design patterns and uploading them to Spoonflower. That sort of fell by the wayside once I got caught up with quilting (I guess I only have the time and brain space for one obsession at a time.), but I'm grateful for picking up some new software skills and getting back into a regular drawing/artmaking practice. I hope to create some more patterns this year. 
So that's 2019 done and dusted. Looking forward to a brand new year filled with creative endeavors and more personal growth. I wish the same for all of you. Thank you for reading and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Wardrobe by Me: Men's Tropical Shirt

Hello, Hello! I hope you're enjoying some time off with family and friends this week. For me, the holidays are an exhausting mad dash all the way up to Christmas Eve, and then everything stops and gets very, very quiet. 

Today I'm blogging about one of my last garments of 2019: the Men's Tropical Shirt pattern by Wardrobe by Me (WBM). It's been a while since I made Beej a shirt and he's been super patient. Personally, I like a camp or "convertible" collar. I think it has a retro-vibe that somewhat suits Beej's style. And, bonus, it's easier to sew than an oxford version with the collar stand. I liked this pattern very much. It was a straightforward sew, and the technical illustrations were very simple and clear. 

In the past, I've made Beej a few Colette Negroni shirts, and I was trying to figure out the main difference in case someone is reading this to decide which to make. There isn't a huge difference. Mainly, the Negroni has a lot more variations—long sleeves, different pocket styles, etc.—but also, I think the Negroni tapers in at the waist more. Take a look at the two flat drawings to compare. The Negroni is the first set of drawings. 

The WBM shirt is more basic, but it has all the elements I was looking for. 

This was my first WBM pattern. I've purchased a few women's patterns but never got around to making them. My experience was positive enough to warrant a second look at this company. 

I always try to bring something special to my garments for Beej. Otherwise, it's just a shirt, and, honestly, not sewn as well as something you could get in a store. I hate to say that, but it's true. I just don't have the set-up or shirt-sewing expertise that comes with lots of practice and a precise eye that you get in a professional garment-making situation. Funny, though, I just learned this last month that my Granny worked in a shirt-making factory for years. Somehow, the experience didn't kill all her joy in sewing, and, apparently, she made beautifully tailored shirts for my cousins, dad, and uncles. So maybe there's hope for me yet! :)

For this garment, the special bit is the fabric and the buttons. The fabric we purchased two years ago in the Paris Montmartre district where they sell all the coupons of fabric. It's a very nice brownish-gray linen with some subtle woven stripes. Beej loves linen, and I think the fabric choice suits the vacation-look of that particular style shirt. If you sew a lot, the buttons are probably immediately recognizable as Arrow Mountain buttons. I  just love her stuff. 

A few more details:
  • Size XL. Beej has narrow shoulders, long arms, and a bit of a tummy. He has compared himself to an orangutan in the past. Personally, I think orangutans are adorable! 
  • The shoulders are a little too broad, but I don't want to do a narrow shoulder adjustment because he often layers three, sometimes even four, shirts at a time.  
  • I regret that I did not french seam the sides. I wish I had started a little earlier and also that I had at least changed out the magenta thread in my serger. Oh well, not so gorgeous on the guts for this one, but hopefully for the next. 
  • Beej likes the length of the sleeves and hem, so this is straight out of the packet. Yes!
So that's it from me, probably for the year. I'll be back soon with top 5 reflections/hits/misses. Wherever you are, whatever you end up doing, I wish you a happy, safe, and peaceful New Year. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

A Couple of Seamwork Brits

Hello and Happy Holidays! I thought I'd record a few recent makes before the end of the year. 

I had to go to Harrisburg for work the first week of December and noticed that I didn't have a lot of long-sleeve knit tops, so I whipped up a couple the day before I left. (What IS that all about? The last-minute frantic sewing before a trip!) Anyway, I decided I wanted something a little closer fitting and slightly more upgraded (i.e., less like a t-shirt) and have been eyeing the Seamwork Brit dress, which is a cute, not-too-body-con, knit dress with bishop sleeves. I just shortened the pattern to make tops instead of dresses. 

For the second version, I added a channel and elastic for something different. I ended up not loving that, though, so now the channel is gone. 

I think this pattern has a lot of possibilities. I'm not a talented hacker, but I could see how it wouldn't be hard to make the sleeves more dramatic or add a ruffle or make it into a maxi. In fact, if anything, I think I would add some volume to the sleeves. As is, it's a little middle-of-the-road, but it makes for a good basic top. The neckline is turned under like the Tacara, which keeps it in the "nice top appropriate for work" category for me; however, I've never been able to do a nice job turning under with bamboo rayon, so the wine-colored version has a t-shirt band. 

I know my modeling pics are not what's bringing you to the blog, but I feel I have to offer an extra apology for what I'm posting here. It's an all-black ensemble, in my dark hotel room in Harrisburg. But maybe it helps to get a sense of scale or if you're similarly built to me...

Just a few details for the Brit tops:
  • Size 18
  • Black top is made with a linen/poly knit from Blackbird that's been in my stash for ages. It's JUST opaque enough to wear and the drape is soft and light—excellent for layering. It's my favorite of the two. 
  • Wine-colored top is a bamboo rayon from Blackbird. 
In other sewing-related news, I made another set of CCP Carolyn pajamas in leopard flannel I picked up from SF Fabric Outlet for 4.70 per yard during a 50% off sale. I absolutely LOVE wearing them. Sewing flannel is a dream—my first time, I think. For modification details, please see my previous PJ post. The only change I made was a bit of a cheat: Since the top slips easily over my head, I skipped the buttonholes and sewed the buttons through all the layers. 

Well, that's it for now. I hope to have one more post before the end of the year. Have a very happy holiday. Wishing everyone peace and love. Cheers!