A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Top 5 Hits

Top 5 
of 2017! (2)

This was a good year for hits.  I had a very hard time choosing just five.  Here's what I came up with.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2017 Top 5 Misses

Top 5 
of 2017! (3).jpg

Ah, the fails.  As I discussed in my year in review post, I had what I consider to be a very small number of fails.  Some of them still irritate me, though.

Friday, December 22, 2017

2017 in Review

I've never done a year-in-review post here before, despite having kept this blog for nearly four years.  But this year I tallied up all my sewing and crunched some numbers so that I could make a fun chart. The results surprised me!

Surprise #1: I sewed more for others than I did for myself.  I was under the impression that I've sewed overwhelmingly for myself for the last two years, but it's not true.  In 2017, I sewed 46 garments for myself (43 percent) and 62 garments for others - mostly my kids (57 percent).  I would have guessed that the proportion of selfish vs. unselfish sewing was more like 75/25 percent.  In 2016, I sewed 40 garments for myself (37 percent) and 58 for others, again, mostly my kids (63 percent).

Here's a graphic breakdown of my selfish sewing for the year:

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Cowl-necks for winter

For the third winter in a  row, I sewed up a few Renfrews.  I've sewn the pattern 10 times before, and yet I still managed to ruin a cut of fabric by sewing a shirt that was too tight.  I blame my lack of methodical pattern notes.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sewing for Kids: Yes, I still do!

Although this blog has become much more about my sewing for myself in the past year, I do still sew for my children.  I tend to stick to easy (and comfortable) knits, and I generally sew for them in huge batches over the course of a couple of weeks, two or three times per year.

I'm gathering up a bunch of the pieces I've made recently and dumping them all in this post.  It is going to be long, so bear with me.

I found this fall that Natasha (who is now 8), needed some fall/winter dresses.  And when you sew for one girl around here, you kind of have to sew for the other one, so 7-year-old Z was getting a new dress, too.

My intent was to make very simple jersey dresses that were roughly knee length.  But I sewed Natasha's out of a very unstable knit (probably poly and/or rayon with some lycra, though FabricMart listed it as a cotton/lycra), and the weight of the skirt pulled the bodice down much more than I had anticipated. She begged me to leave it long, and now she swishes around in what she calls her "simple dress," pretending to be a 19th century prairie girl.

I used the School Bus T-shirt pattern from Oliver+S for both dresses, in a slimmed-down size 5 for Natasha, and a straight 5 for Z.  Then I cut long width-of-fabric rectangles for the skirts and gathered them up, then stabilized the waist seam with knit interfacing before sewing them together.

Of course, after I made Natasha's dress, Zoia decided that hers also needed to be ankle length.  It's sewn out of a less drapey cotton interlock with a cotton/lycra jersey scrap for the neckband.  It turned out a little nightgown-esque because the interlock has less drape than the jersey, but she loves it.

The School Bus pattern has gotten a workout here lately.  I used it to make cotton interlock nightgowns for my daughters and oldest niece (hers is not pictured, but it's a tank version of the same nightgown).  These are constructed just like the dresses, but with an added ruffle at bottom.

As my kids have grown, my ability to use up small scraps for their clothing has decreased.  When the boys needed new pjs, I tried to use up most of remaining knit scraps.

I made these pjs out of a red and blue stripe cotton interlock I found at the thrift store last year.  The body of Niko's shirt is a cotton rib knit that's been hanging out in my stash for awhile.  The pants are Oliver+S Playtime Leggings - definitely my most-used pattern ever - in a size 4T + some length for Gabriel and size 2 for Niko.  I added a cuff on the larger pair to make them even longer.  Neckbands are cotton/lycra jersey scraps.  G's top is the School Bus T-shirt, and Niko's is the O+S Field Trip Raglan.

The second set is made from the same patterns (both shirts are Field Trip Raglans this time) and all cotton/lycra jersey except for Niko's pants, which took out the rest of the navy rib knit.

This set, for Gabriel, is another School Bus + Playtime and is made out of striped interlock and a really nice and thick brown cotton/lycra jersey, purchased years ago from Fabric Mart.

Natasha also needed some pants, so I made two more pairs of Playtime Leggings for her.  These are a size 4 with the length of an 8.  Next time I'm going to make the 5 plus length for her.  The gray ones are French terry with cotton/lycra jersey knee patches, and the black are cotton/lycra jersey.

Last, I wanted to use up the less-than-a-yard of this flannel from Joann's that I used on my Bonn No. 5.  I also didn't want to buy a new pattern.  So I flipped through my one issue of Ottobre Design (Winter 6/2015), and found the Tiny Pussy Bow blouse, #21.  I traced it out in a size 110 with the armhole height of a 128 and the length of the 134.  I left off the pussy bow and just bound the neckline.  I wanted a bit of extra length so I added a ruffle at bottom.  I had so little fabric left that I had to piece that ruffle in five sections.  N loves the shirt and I feel good, having used up every scrap of fabric.

This pattern only has five pieces, which makes the tracing more tolerable.  The instructions were fine, and it went together quickly.  My only quibble is that the yoke is a single layer.  I didn't cut it on the bias because I was afraid it would distort without a facing.  But in this thick fabric, cut on grain, it works fine.  The pattern has a tiny bit of gathering at the front shoulder, which is hard to see in this fabric.  The back is supposed to be gathered too, but I decided to do an inverted pleat instead.  I'm very happy with this make.

There are a few other recent makes that I didn't manage to get pictures of - another pair of pjs and two pairs of leggings for Z and another School Bus dress for N.  Coming up for the end of the year, I will have my end-of-year sewing review and some Top 5 posts that I'm looking forward to sharing with you.

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Make-It-Up-As-I-Go Coat

Immediately after I made my wool jersey poncho, I started dreaming about a warmer one made in plaid wool.  This rust and teal 100% wool coating at FabricMart (sold out now) caught my eye, and I visited its web page every day until it finally went on sale.  I then bought 1.5 yards, having sketched out my poncho based on the last one that I made.

After it arrived, though, my plans changed.  I spent a lot of time draping it over myself, pinning here and there and redraping.   I didn't have enough yardage to make a full coat (even though Fabric Mart had actually sent me about 10 extra inches).   But I no longer wanted just a poncho.  So I pinned and draped a bit more, and then started cutting.  Essentially, I made this garment up as I went along.

I started by cutting my yardage in half crosswise.  Then I sewed the pieces back together where I had cut them, leaving an opening for my head.  Originally, I was going to sew up the sides to make sleeves, but I decided the plaid, which was no longer going to be on the bias as I had originally planned, needed to be broken up.  So I cut it down the front middle and made a button placket.  I put a dart in the back to make it fit my neck better.  Then I sewed up from the hem to make a side seam, pivoting toward the sides and sewing to the end to make sleeves.  

When I first tried it on, it was still a rectangle, and the sides flopped down in points.  That wasn't the look I was going for, so I decided to fold up the corners.

I cut the front piece where I had folded it, and then folded the back piece over to the front.  I sewed them down to create pockets.  The pockets aren't the most functional because they're placed in such a way that it's difficult to access them without reading across with the other hand.  But they are pockets and they're deep, so I can put keys and phone in them without worrying about losing them.

By the time I had done all that, our 50s and 60s had dropped into 40s, and I decided I needed this to be a warmer garment.  I found a large piece of bright red fleece in my stash to use as a lining.  I would have chosen a gray lining for this coat, but #stashbusting, so I went with the red.  Even worn open, the coat doesn't flop to the right side, so no one is ever going to see it.

Things were looking good at this point, but I wanted the sleeves a little longer.  I didn't have any more fabric, having used all but those triangle corners and the tiny bit I shaved off the front neckline. I found some heavy apparel flannel in my stash and made cuffs.  And I love them!  

For the placket, I went with the dark side of some 1" coconut shell buttons from the stash.  I didn't hem because I didn't want to lose any length.  

This coat isn't perfect by any means.  I didn't line it properly, so the fabric hangs a little funny.  And the sleeves are not fully lined due to fabric shortage.  But I am really happy with the way it looks and it is already my go-to jacket until we reach down-parka temperatures.  It did make me realize that I would like to make a proper coat sometime.  I love the collar on the Closet Case Files Clare Coat and want to try making it sometime in the future.

 Thanks for reading, and see you next time!