Friday, August 31, 2018

Emersons Abroad

Hello from Reims, France! Beej and I arrived in London last Sunday and just arrived in Reims yesterday. We haven't had the best weather, but I'm in France eating cheese and drinking champagne and not working so no complaints here! Today we took a zillion photos of the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Reims and are now comfortably settled in our room with all kinds of yummy things to eat and drink.

Also, I'm able to blog abroad because Beej gave me a laptop for our tenth wedding anniversary last week! Year ten is aluminum or tin, and I really can't think of anything else aluminum that I'd like. Awesome gift!

I thought a lot about my travel wardrobe--and like many sewists spent several evenings before vacation at my sewing machine, trying to whip up a handmade holiday wardrobe. I succeeded in making three tee-shirts and the True Bias Emerson Pants I'm blogging today, as well as the linen Nenuphar kimono jacket I recently posted.  Not too shabby, come to think of it.

Advance Warning: My pictures don't really show the pants very well. They're black and I forgot to do the half tuck because I would never do a half tuck in real life. Also, I climbed up on a gate and am suspending forward, so the pants look a little longer than they actually are. Having said that, I did cut them to be a longer cropped trouser, closer to the length of the cropped Landers than the Emersons. In real life, they hit about 3 inches above my ankle. I would probably wear with clogs or cork wedges at home, know, cobblestones.

That weird lump on my right leg is just my reading glasses and phone in my pocket. They're roomy and comfy and perfect for traveling. Incidentally, this is an entirely handmade outfit: Emersons, Deer and Doe Plantain tee, and Blackwood cardigan.

In total, I've made five pairs of Emersons now. It's a super easy pattern as there's no fly front. Perfect for over-ambitious sewists to make at the last minute since they sew up very quickly and require minimal fitting.  I like the elastic back and the flat front waistband. I guess they're technically considered "pull-on pants," although I hate that term because it reminds me of diapers. I sewed up the largest size and didn't shorten because I didn't want them to be cropped just below the knees. In the past, I've sewed them up as work pants in tencel, but the fabric I used this time really suits the pattern, I think, and provides a bit more structure. I also used a heavier interfacing for the front waistband panel, which I recommend.  Now I want to say a bit more about the fabric because I think it's kind of special.

I fabric is impossible to photograph. But with the exposure bumped up, hopefully you can see the texture in the pic above. This is a linen/cotton blend from Britex. (Sorry, couldn't find it on the website.) I think it was around 39.99 per yard, paid for with the last of my seemingly endless Britex gift certificates, which are now finally used up. As you can see, it's crinkled like a gauze but a bit thicker and heavier. The really interesting thing about this fabric is that it's not actually crinkled but, in fact, shirred. The back of the fabric has parallel lines of black thread that slightly gather the fabric. I've never seen anything like it. If I manage to get a decent shot of the back of this fabric, I'll be sure to add to this blog post.

So I think that's everything I can think to say about my travel trousers. I'm rotating these with two pairs of jeans, but we'll still need to do laundry when we get to Paris on Sunday. Mostly because I need more clean tops.

I hope to blog more about vacation clothes making when I return home. Until then, have a wonderful week wherever you are. Au revoir!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Nenuphar: The Jacket I Never Knew I Needed

Hello! Or should I say Bonjour? So this is just a mid-week quickie blog post. I don't have a lot of pics (as usual), but I feel compelled to share my experience with the Nenuphar jacket from Deer and Doe. I don't make a lot of different things; it's mostly tops and undies on this blog. So whenever I go outside of my comfort zone a little, it's pretty damn exciting. 

I bought the Nenuphar pattern almost immediately after the launch because it's adorable and they recently expanded their size range, but then I sat on it for a bit. I was worried it wouldn't work on my curvy plus bod, nervous about set-in sleeves after my Kelly Anorak, and was just kind of unsure about the look--like maybe it would be a little too art teacher chic on a person my age. Ultimately, though, I decided that I like art teacher chic and to just go for it. And I'm so glad I did. It totally fills the office-wear cardigan hole during summer. Dressing for the office can feel like a uniform: black/dark/non-denim pants, nice top (i.e., not a tee shirt), cardigan. A little linen kimono jacket does the same job as a cardigan but feels so fresh for summer. It's a nice surprise since I didn't have super high expectations. 

Without further ado, here's my toilet selfie and a few construction notes. 

  • Sorry, this was a particularly rushed toilet selfie. I think I heard someone coming.
  • Made a size 50, which is the second largest size. Even though my 48" bust measurement put me in the largest size, I had a feeling I should size down. It's open (no closures) and an oversized design to begin with. 
  • While it's somewhat oversized, I really like that it's not overwhelming or overly large. I think the proportions are very well thought out. Also, the set-in sleeve helps with this. 
  • Speaking of set-in sleeves, these were sooooo easy. There's barely a sleeve head. I ended up sewing them in flat rather than setting them and it was completely painless and drama free. 
  • Short person mods: I shortened the sleeves 1.5 at the "shorten here" line / shortened 7/8 of an inch at the torso "shorten here" line.
  • This comes together VERY quickly. An easy weekend make. The pattern pieces fit very well together. I always get a little nervous when the placket is supposed to meet the bottom because I'm so often off by an inch or so, but it all fit so well together. 
  • My one piece of advice in varying from the instructions is when you're instructed to sew the pockets on before hemming/adding the placket. It wasn't that it was terribly off, but I would just baste them on and see where you like the pockets when the jacket is finished. The jacket is unlined, so there's no special reason to sew them on at the beginning of construction. 
  • Fabric is a lovely terra cotta linen/silk blend from Fabric Outlet. I think I paid around $15 per yard if I paid full price. Love, love, love this color. 
So that's my Nenuphar jacket. I made it for my summer vacay to wear with jeans, but I think it might also be an office staple, at least for Indian summer and next spring. I'm already thinking about making one in sensible black crepe, though I'm loving all the statement Nenuphars I'm seeing in bold patterns.

In other news, I made a True Bias Lodo but shortened it as a top. 

I'm not going to say very much because it's a shift dress that I shortened to a top. Pretty simple. I marked the pattern cut line with a green highlighter so I can go back and make another top the same length. That's my hot tip for you. I used a nice quality ponte stripe from Mood. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I'm visiting France in a few weeks. The problem is I sew and wear striped jersey tops all the time, but I feel like I can't wear them in Paris for fear of looking like a walking cliche. People will be like, "hey, where's your baguette?"

Anyhoo, I'll leave you with some pictures of nice-looking Lodo guts. I do love the woven/knit combo and the nice finish you get.  Have a fantastic week and thank you for reading!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Summer Clothes: Another Kalle

Hello! Hope you're having an excellent weekend. I'm just sitting here procrastinating. I want to make a Deer and Doe Nenuphar Jacket, but the thought of taping all those pdf pattern, maybe a glass of wine and a blog post first. Speaking of Deer and Doe, the other day I happened upon the blog of the D & D curvy model, Elodie, and have been really enjoying reading about her makes. Since I don't speak French, I'm able to read it via Google Translate, which isn't quite the same but you get the gist. I love how in the translated version sewing patterns are called "bosses." I get why—patron=boss—but it still makes me smile. I'm actually going to France in a month, so I guess that's why I've been a bit of a francophile these days.

Anyhoo, back to the subject at hand which is another Closet Case Patterns Kalle tunic but this time in a refreshing white linen.

It's linen, baby. Gotta embrace those wrinkles. 

I really noticed my lack of warm-weather clothes while staying at my parents' in hot, humid TN. Then I had to do some traveling for work—first to the Pacific Northwest (Portland and Seattle) and then to Phoenix, AZ. All those knit tops I like to make are way too heavy for hot weather. It was 115-freakin'-degrees in Phoenix! That's where linen comes in. Isn't it the best to sew? I love the steamy smell of the flax when you press it, and the way it stitches up so easily without any puckering. It's also timeless and elegant, IMHO. 

And I LOVE the buttons from ArrowMountain. In fact, the shirt was progressing pretty slowly until these buttons arrived in the mail. I also bought these gorgeous black hexagon buttons and phases of the moon. You can't see it in the pic below, but the hex buttons have tiny hex-shaped holes. Love that kind of attention to detail!

Just to change things up from my usual work bathroom selfie, here's a hotel bathroom selfie for ya. 

I've blogged about previous Kalles here and here. Additional notes below. 
  • Like my first version: Size 20, no FBA. Tunic, popover version with tabbed collar. 
  • Also like previous: Shortened 2" at the "shorten here" line. 
  • New mod: In addition to the previous 2" mod, I also shortened the back tail by 2" so it wouldn't hang quite so low. It still covers my butt, but it won't peak out from long cardigans. 
  • I've been obsessed with owning the perfect white shirt for a while now. The first one I made, a Mila Itch to Stich popover, was made from fabric with poor drape so I hardly ever wore it. The second had excellent drape but was too sheer to wear without something under or over it. I think this white linen from Blackbird fabrics hits the sweet spot of being light but not too sheer. Now it's just a matter of keeping it stain-free. Fortunately, I've recently discovered how well my husband's Doc Bronner's liquid castile soap works on stains, so fingers crossed. 
  • I ignored the cuff instructions, opting for a simpler technique of sewing as I would a jersey cuff and serging the raw seam.
  • That curved hem...damn. Turning the bias binding under 1/4" for the last pass on the machine is never easy. I used wonder clips for the curve and a shitload of pins for the rest. It really is worth taking the extra time, though, since it's the side curve that makes this pattern so special. 
  • Completely blew off the top button hole because it was way too thick for my machine.

Well, I think I've said everything I can about a pattern I've made three times. I'll just leave you with pics of delicious food from Phoenix's Sicilian Butcher. Have a fab week!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Sabor, Tutton....Tabor-ish

Hello, hope you're well! I'm having one of those days where I'm so tired I don't know where to start or what to do. This week's been hectic despite (or maybe due to) having a holiday smack in the middle of the week. Thursday and Friday were 12-hour days for me, and I will need to go into the office tomorrow—on a Sunday. No bueno. On the bright side, this is not a permanent situation. I've got two events in the Pacific Northwest this week to finish preparing for. Things will normalize a bit by next week when those events are behind me.

I was instantly smitten when I saw the Tabor v-neck by the intriguing Sew House Seven. It's SO my wheelhouse: loose and boxy, knit, v-neck, kimono sleeve or drop sleeve, a million variations. Now before I go any further, I need to make the disclaimer that this isn't really a helpful review of the pattern because I had to vary the construction method, but I still wanted to write about it because I think it was a good save.

You can probably spot the main reason why this is not really a good review of the Tabor in the above pic: Check out that center seam. I was following along with the instructions for the cropped sweater version with the wide lapped neckband, which was the standout variation to me. As you can see, that's not what I ended up with. Turns out, constructing the neck was trickier than I anticipated. After a few unsuccessful attempts and some overly aggressive seam ripping, I discovered that I'd torn a pea-sized hole in the front. There was no way to cover it up. I wanted to save this knit because...time, fabric, labor—but also because I think this knit, while inexpensive and therefore not the best quality, is interesting. It's meant to look like denim—even on the reverse side—but it's a stretchy knit. I guess it's intended for jeggings, but I thought it would make a cute top.

I didn't have enough fabric to recut another front piece on the fold, but then I remembered the construction of one of my favorite woven patterns—the True Bias Sutton top.

I didn't use any of the Sutton pattern pieces, but I borrowed from its construction. Basically, I cut a Tabor tee shirt front piece (NOT the cropped sweater version) on the cross grain as two pieces. Sewed the two front seams at the shoulder seam to the back of the original sweater piece (it was a little mismatched at the neck, but I was able to trim a little to get them to fit), and attached a neckband BEFORE joining the two center fronts. For the neckband, I used the tee version but made it extra long for wiggle room. I used my cover stitch to tack down the neck before sewing the center and I pulled gently for just a little tension so that the neckline would lay flat. I also added sleeve cuffs, using my Hey June Santa Fe pattern, and a split hem for kicks.

Here's a pic of how it looks on. I swear, at this point I think I should rename this blog, "Toilet Selfie."

So it's not how I intended it to go, but I like the top I ended up with. I do plan to learn the proper construction method. In fact, I've got the perfect piece of burgundy merino wool to make the lapped v-neck sweater, which would be perfect for fall. But I had so much fun with this easy, stress-free method, that I couldn't resist making a couple more Tabor-ish Suttons or Sutton-ish Tabors (Sabors?) in different types of knits. Once you remove the tricky neckline of the Tabor, construction is laughably easy. And I really don't mind the center seam.

A shibori knit for an easy summer tee...

And this terracotta tee (I'm OBSESSED with this color) for wearing with shorts and jeans. 

Here are the sizing deets and additional musings:
  • Size: 20. A little too large. Also, fabric type/stretch affects the sizing as well. I ended up making all kinds of crazy mods:
    • For my faux denim knit: Sewed the crop sweater back, with cropped tea front sewn as two pieces. In my haste, I did not remember to add a seam allowance but with so much ease it wasn't a problem. 
    • Lengthened cropped sweater by 1.5" in the front and 3" in the back. 
    • Eyeballed the side split and used Hey June piece for the cuff.
    • All three tops were primarily constructed on the serger with some basting on my regular sewing machine. 
  • For the Shibori print: 
    • Used both front and back tee pieces at the cropped length. 
    • Raised v-neckline by 3/4" and sewed the shoulder with a 5/8" seam allowance. 
    • The beauty of this construction is that you don't have to worry about the neckband being off because you end up trimming the excess anyway. 
    • Also forgot seam allowance. 
    • The front tips up a teensy bit due to my bust. 
    • Again, I added cuffs since it's a summer top that won't likely be worn with a cardigan, but the knit is pretty flimsy so the cuffs ended up being a little floppy. I may cut them off altogether and fold under for a simple hem.
    • Cover stitched the hem only because the coverstitching on the neckline wasn't looking too good. I ended up unpicking. There was quite a bit of tunneling, so I adjusted all my machine tension dials to 2 (they're usually at 4).
  • For the terracotta knit
    • First, the fabric is a fabulous hemp and organic cotton jersey that I purchased from Blackbird in April 2017. It was $10.50 per half meter. I love this fabric so much. It's perfect for a casual tee. Think, beach bonfires. Also, the color is surprisingly flattering to, I think, every skin tone—even mine that tends to go blotchy. 
      • Cut both front and back tee shirt pieces as a straight size 20. This resulted in a neckline that's far too low, which is why I make sure to wear a pretty bra with it. It's too casual (and low cut) for work, but I love to wear it with jeans or sweats. 
      • No cuffs for this one. 
      • Did not cover stitch the neckline. 
    For future "Sabors," I don't think I'll bother going down a size, but I will raise the neckline to 3/4" like I did for the shibori version. It hits at the sweet spot of not too low, not too mumsy.  The arm holes fit well—roomy, but no bra peeking out. 

    So, moral of the story:  if you find yourself messing up the Tabor v-neck, consider turning it into a Sabor.  

    Thanks for reading and have a great week!

    Sunday, July 1, 2018

    A Healing Sew

    Hello. Hope you're having a great weekend. I've just returned to San Francisco after two weeks in Tennessee, which felt like two years because of all the intense feelings associated with this particular trip. My amazing dad chose to receive hospice care at home and left the world within a week. I was so very lucky to spend time with him before he died.

    I try to keep things light and cheerful here on the blog and mainly focused on sewing and other creative endeavors, but since this is also my life I didn't think I could not mention such an important event. I also want to muse a bit about the healing benefits of creative acts. I'm not going to talk about the pattern or fabric for the above pic in this post. I will in my next post, though, because I think it might be of interest to sewists. 

    When I got the call from my mom that my dad wanted to stop treatment and would die within a week, I was utterly overwhelmed. My generous and kind boss used some of her air miles to put me on a plane (first class, no less) the very next morning. While packing and waiting for my laundry to dry, I finished the tee-shirt pictured here and found it so soothing to have something to do with my hands. I guess I'm a doer, so having something methodical to work on was comforting. While in Tennessee, I couldn't sew (this was one of those times that I wished I was a knitter since it's portable) and found myself wishing I could work on something during some of the long evenings while my father slept—not for the fun of making something new but so that I could be comforted by following simple steps. 

    I channeled a lot of my excess energy into trying to help my mom with housework and funeral arrangements. Towards the end of my trip, I used the long, quiet evenings to put together some pdf patterns while I thought about my dad. Since not everyone gets the chance to say goodbye, I feel eternally grateful that I was able to tell my dad how much I love him. I'll miss him like crazy, but I'm just so proud and happy to have had him as my father for the time I did.  He had such a joyful spirit, and his illness had robbed him of so much of that. I'm grateful that he's at peace. The funeral (my first) was beautiful and heartfelt with some wonderfully weird moments that I think my dad, with his playful sense of humor, would appreciate. 

    Rest in peace, Dad. You loved and were loved and made the world a better place in so many ways. 

    Saturday, June 9, 2018

    Sewing Knits: Coverstitching and Some Undies

    Hey there! Hope all is well with you and you're enjoying your weekend wherever you are. Last weekend Beej and I did some heavy duty (and much needed) spring cleaning, and Thursday I worked from home, which meant I was able to get my laundry done while working. So with so many chores completed, I'm really excited to have a guilt-free weekend of doing whatever-the-hell-I-feel-like. I've been sewing a lot lately, and when I'm not sewing I've been thinking about sewing. I feel like I've got a pretty good balance going right now of TNTs and challenging projects on my table. I've been muslining pants the past couple of weeks, playing with my new coverstitch machine, and replenishing my undie drawer while simultaneously scrapbusting. It's been a good flow.

    I guess I'll start with my new toy: the Janome 900 CPX coverstitch machine. I think the three needle Janome 1000 and 2000 models are more popular because of the additional option to sew three lines of stitching for not that much more money. Makes sense to have options, but since I don't sew high-performance athletic knits, a two needle version is just fine for me. I will probably only use it for hemming knits. I must confess, though, that after seeing so many cool binding tutorials on YouTube I was ready to order the binding attachment. But once I saw the price—upwards of $200 for a metal attachment—I decided to slow my roll and wait and see if it's really something I want.

    A coverstitch machine is definitely not a sewing must-have. I just happened to have a bunch of Amazon gift cards and decided to go for it since I sew with knits so much, and hemming is really my least favorite part. I gave up on twin needles a while ago and was using a combination of fusible bias and zig-zag or straight stitch (for loose-fitting knits) to make a satisfactory hem. For the most part, this method worked out well for me, although I felt it looked a little janky on the underside. Also, my knit hems almost always required a light pressing after laundering to smooth out the ripples. Who wants to spend time ironing knits, amiright?

    I practiced on a cheap t-shirt knit before breaking out this gorgeous striped bamboo rayon from Blackbird fabrics. I went for my favorite striped knit T-shirt pattern: the free Mandy Boatneck Tee from Tessuti. Here's what the coverstitched neck and hem look like, respectively. 

    Overall, not bad! I used my hot hemmer and masking tape to make the hem length more precise, although it does overlap here and there. Better to overlap a little than not catch the edge of the hem, though. Coverstitching feels more like sewing than serging. I'm used to whizzing things through my serger at breakneck speed but found I needed to slow down a bit for sewing on the coverstitch. Also, removing your fabric from the machine after stitching takes some getting used to as it's not very intuitive. 

    Aaaand here's one of my super classy toilet pics. I love how this top looks with my new red clogs. 

    I ended up downloading a new copy of the Mandy Tee, so I'm adding a few notes here:
    • I lowered the neckline 1.5 inches so it doesn't hit my throat uncomfortably. My guess is this is a large bust issue. The adjustment is perfect and my bra straps don't show. Bonus!
    • I've learned the hard way to only use nice stretchy knits for the Mandy that contain some spandex/lycra. This bamboo rayon from Blackbird is perfect, and the quality is excellent—soft, stretchy, and luxurious with excellent color saturation. 
    • I did not lengthen or shorten at all, and I really like where it hits me.
    Since I like this fabric so much, I wanted to be sure to use up the scraps. These are the Acacia undies by Megan Nielsen. Bamboo rayon is really great for underwear since it's so soft and stetchy.

    The Acacia undies were released around the holidays as a free pattern. (Yay for free Aussie patterns in this blog post!) Since I seem to be compelled to try every single free undie pattern out there, I, of course, had to make a bunch. They are a little trickier to sew due to the extra curve in the bum (see photo of pattern piece below), but said curved bum is what makes them so incredibly comfortable to wear. They just seem to hold on better if you know what I mean. 

    The pattern is not halved to cut on the fold, so I just folded mine. I don't see how it makes much of a difference and I'm more likely to cut it symmetrically on the fold. Size goes up to XL. I made size L and like the fit. I used my favorite Ohhh Lulu techniques for assembling and enclosed the crotch seams.

    So this post was a lot longer than I had planned. I've got more makes to share—hopefully soon. Maybe I'll even finally complete some trousers. In the meantime, have yourself an absolutely lovely weekend!

    Sunday, May 20, 2018

    Scrapbusting: Ida Clutch

    Hey there! Hope you're having a great weekend. It's been a perfect spring weekend for Beej and I. We went to the Giants game yesterday, and they won so yay! I got to sew last night, and then I spent most of today learning how to use my new coverstitch machine. So much fun stuff. With the coverstitch, there's definitely a learning curve, but fortunately, we live in the age of YouTube. I'm muddling through. Now I'm just relaxing while Beej makes dinner—in other words, I'm living the life.

    So I want to talk today about the Ida Clutch, an awesome free pattern by Kylie and the Machine. I was inspired by Shauni of The Magnificent Thread's post (and her whole #sewingleftovers hashtag) and straight up copied her idea to use the pattern to make a cross body bag. Beej and I are going to Europe this summer, and I think it would be great to have a small bag to carry the essentials while sightseeing. 

    With the exception of the zipper, everything I used for this is a scrap or taken from an unsuccessful project. The strap and D-rings are from an old purse I found in the back of my closet.

    I had so much material that I ended up making an additional bag without the strap, which I'm giving to my boss for her birthday next week. She travels for work all the time, so I think it might make a handy travel bag. I will resist the urge to point out the various mistakes I made—like the wonky zipper— when I give it to her. :)

    Sorry if the above pic is giving you vertigo.  I had trouble getting a decent shot of the lining, which is an April Rhodes rayon that I absolutely love. Before I forget, here are the deets:

    • Much like the idea that it's just as easy to make two lasagnas as one, I constructed these simultaneously, which is something I've never done before. It worked out fairly well, though it also meant that when I did make mistakes I had to rip out twice as many stitches. 
    • The instructions are incredibly clear, accompanied by many, many photographs. The ripping of stitches, mentioned in the previous bullet, was entirely down to me trying to watch SNL last night and quickly construct and sew during the commercials. 
    • I interfaced both the lining and the outer material. For the lining I used featherweight; for my crossbody bag I used a very heavy interfacing that one would use for craft projects; the travel pouch is made with midweight. Mainly I was focused on using up old supplies in my stash. 
    • I purchased my zippers from Zipit Zippers. The package arrived super quick, and the price was much better than what's usually available in brick and mortar stores—5 zippers for $7.50.

    In other news, I made another Chalk and Notch Fringe blouse. If you're interested in making this top, I recorded my notes in this post. Here are few more quick notes.
    • I added 1" waist darts for just a teensy bit of shaping. Overall, though, I like the fit to be relaxed. 
    • Fabric is the last of my Blackbird Fabrics tencel. I just need to remember to keep it out of the dryer. My kalle has a slightly sandwashed quality from the dryer. 
    • I'm not finished with this pattern yet. I still want to make a dress AND try the other sleeve and collar options.

    Well, that's all I've got today. Hopefully, I'll have some slick new coverstitched hems/knit projects to share next time I blog. Have an absolutely lovely week and thank you very much for reading. 

    (P.S. The tee shirt in the first pic is the Plantain reboot by Deer and Doe. I need to practice a bit more with my coverstitch before hemming.)