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Gingham Archer

April 16, 2017

I really should re-name this project Erica Makes Blue and White Shirts.

I’ve had this fabric forever and I kept using it for interior pockets on jeans and other items. It’s soft, crisp and with a bit of stretch. I realized that I’d better hurry up and make an actual garment out of it before I cut it down anymore, or I’d only have enough fabric left for…more pockets. I made this shirt at the same time as my Striped Archer, but made a few planning mistakes on this version that the striped one benefited from.

  1. I forgot to account for the seam allowances when laying out the pattern pieces for cutting. The Archer has a sewn-on front placket on one side of the shirt, while the other side is folded under twice. This meant that instead of having a continuous pattern across the front, I ended up having to shave off 1/2 from the folded side to create a more balanced effect.
  2. I did the same thing on the back. The stripes are 1′ wide and I easily could have planned for the external pleat to go over one stripe, like this great version from Helen’s Closet. I turned the pleat inside so that it wouldn’t stand out too much.
  3. I ended up making two collars because I cut the first one with horizontal stripes. It looked much better on the bias.
  4. I tried to take pictures of a bright shirt outside, in Canada, in April. Weather ensued and it took 3 attempts to get it together.

However, please don’t let all of this nit-picking trick you into thinking I don’t love this shirt. I was feeling a little over it by the time I was finally done, but haven’t stopped wearing it.  I put out a call for button opinions on Instagram and was very happy with my choice (they are from The Mariner’s Daughter).

I understand why people who sew tend to have an Archer for every day of the week. This one feels the most boxy of the three I have made, as the fabric has the most body. It’s also the version that has convinced me to do a narrow-shoulder-adjustment next time. But I really will need to wait to make another one: I am on a shirt-making moratorium until I round out this handmade wardrobe of mine. Dresses! Bras! Pants! Shoes! Anything that uses a zipper! Let’s do it!

 

Project: Gingham Archer

Total Cost: $52

Fabric: $20

Pattern: $22 (Since I already own this pattern, I will remove the cost of it from the total cost of my wardrobe at the update).

Notions: $10

Time: 10 hours

Fit: Straight size 6, but I will definitely be doing a narrow-shoulder adjustment next time.

Techniques: Pattern-matching until my head hurt, burrito-roll shoulders, buttonholes, the alternate collar order.

 

Striped Archer Button-Up

April 2, 2017
Grainline Archer

Grainline ArcherGrainline ArcherGrainline ArcherGrainline ArcherGrainline Archer Grainline Archer I was supposed to be taking a break from button-up shirts and working on rounding out my handmade wardrobe. However, when I saw this fabric wedged waaaay in the back of the sale bin at my local chain fabric store (during an ill-fated attempt to find more bra fabric), I knew another one was in order. And then, I figured so long as I was going to be making one Archer Button-Up (from Grainline Studio), I might as well make two at the same time and use up some lovely fabric in my stash (post on the other one coming up next).

I wanted a really classic shirt, so I skipped the great butt-ruffle this time. I thought about doing a narrow-shoulder adjustment, but I wanted it to look slightly oversized and not as tailored, so I made a straight size 6. As this make required an extreme amount of pattern-matching, I decided to save myself at least one step and simply serge the edges of the fabric before sewing–although, it felt like cheating after all the French and flat-felled seams I’ve been doing.

I cut out the pattern pieces very, very carefully. Luckily, the stripe is 1/4 inch in width and there are 1/2 inch seam allowances, so that simplified things. I was able to plan ahead and ensure that there is no break in the pattern across the front of the shirt. I used the stripe, however, in a contrasting direction for the collar, that big ol’ pocket, the cuffs, and sleeve plackets.

This is probably one of my favourite makes of this project. Classic, made with care, and you would never know that it’s homemade! My other Archer has been getting a ton of wear, so I’m happy to have this one to add to the mix. Mother Nature was not keen on letting me get photos of this shirt. I try not to wear a garment before I take the pictures, but it was taking so long that eventually I gave up. When I put it on, I realized that I’d forgotten to put in the buttonholes on the sleeves! I’ll be adding them in, but I wear them rolled up so much I think some sleeve-tabs are also in order.

 

Project: Striped Archer Button-Up

Total Cost: $46

Fabric:$20

Total hours: 10 hours

Pattern: $22 (Since I already own this pattern, I will remove the cost of it from the total cost of my wardrobe at the update)

Notions:$4

Fit: No alternations. Straight size 6

Techniques: Buttonholes, so much pattern matching, and the alternate collar order

 

Sewaholic Oakridge Pussy Bow Blouse

March 12, 2017
Sewaholic Oakridge Blouse

Sewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge Blouse

I’m calling this my “Corporate Headshot Day Outfit.” It feels very Follow the Money, no?

For this make, I used a light weight stretch poplin from my fabric stash for the Sewaholic Oakridge Blouse. It’s crisp and I love the rich colour. I knew I wanted a larger statement bow, so I added two inches to the width and eight inches to the length. I wanted to up the drama, but also balance the proportions with my bust.

Sewaholic Patterns are (were?) made for pear-shaped bodies, so a full-bust-adjustment (1 inch) was in order. I was planning on adding width to the sleeves, but I was on a roll with my French seams and forgot to change the math.

The fit is better than it appears in the photos. I have found that this stretch fabric sticks to both my bra and the pant fabric. I don’t know if that’s due to fit, or just that it was -24C at the time of these photos. I have made a version of this shirt before (the one without the bow) in a plain cotton and I don’t get any excess fabric around the armpits on that one. It’s nothing extreme, but I’ll be interested to try this shirt on with a different – handmade – bra. (Insert all the prayer-hands and fingers-crossed emojis for that particular experiment).

Project: Oakridge Pussy Bow Blouse

Total Cost: $55

Fabric:$25

Pattern:$22

Notions: $8

Time: 10 hours.

Fit: Size 2 with a 1 inch FBA, super-sized the bow.

Techniques: French seams, internal sleeve plackets, buttonholes.

What to work on: Making a better bra! And some dresses, and some trousers. I’ve been on a shirt making streak, but I’ve got to stop procrastinating with them.

Tweedy Saunio Cardigan from Named Patterns

February 26, 2017
Saunio Cardigan

Saunio Cardigan   The February item for Project Sew My Style was the Saunio Cardigan from Named Patterns. I’ve thought about making this pattern several times, but it always got passed over for something more exciting. I think this is mainly due to the styling of the sample: I found it hard to visualize past their cabled version.

For my sweater, I decided to use this tweedy knit I had stashed away from Stylemaker Fabrics. I had originally intended it for a Driftless Cardigan, using the right side of the fabric, but, after playing around with both sides I decided I liked the wrong side more! I did want to see a bit of the original though, so I ended up using some of it for the facings. And of course, the more I played with the fabric, the more it unravelled, which I also liked. I sewed the pieces right-to-wrong sides, and left the seams exposed for added texture. I added a line of stitching along the bodice and the sleeves as a hem.

I have enough fabric left to make a belt if I decide I want one, but for now, I really like the boxy shape and the dropped shoulders. I started wearing the jacket before I was even completely finished making it and have gotten compliments each time. It’s filled a hole in my wardrobe quite nicely.

Project: Tweedy Saunio Cardigan

Total Cost $47.43

Fabric: $32.73 (CAD)

Pattern:$13 (CAD)

Notions:$2

Time: 4 hours

Fit Adjustments: None. Straight size S (EU size 32-36)

 

Full on Floral: Megan Nielsen Dove Blouse

February 22, 2017
Dove Blouse

I was all set to make the biggest bell-sleeve option of the Dove Blouse from Megan Nielsen until I saw what the pattern piece looked like. I could have used it as a template to make a shield – it was bigger than me! But after some online encouragement, I decided to go for it. After all, once I tire of the bells, I can always take them off and still have a great shirt. In that spirit, I also broke out this rayon from Cotton and Steel that I have been putting off using. I couldn’t find the right project for the fabric that would fit within my 2.5 metres. I cut very strategically (I had to piece together the neck facings), but I just eked it out, giant sleeves and all.

I wasn’t sure how the sleeves would look in the print, but I was happily surprised with the results! I feel like it’s going to be hard to have a bad day in this shirt. I made the XS, which was again an experiment and I’m glad I did. I find it too long, but I suspect this rayon will continue to shrink. The neckline is also lower than I would usually go and a bit much for the office. I’ll raise that next time. I used french seams where possible, and finished the bottom hem by hand. There are times when the neck rises up away from me (depending on how I stand), but I’m not sure what this means for the fit – it’s too long in the upper bodice? Needs an FBA?

I let the sleeves hang for a good day before I hemmed them as they are cut on the bias, but they didn’t stretch out too dramatically. However, one side stretched out more than the other. I have a vintage dress form and it is certainly drunken in stance, so perhaps that contributed. I also discovered the warm-climate nature of big bells: you try cramming that much material into coat sleeves!

Since this shirt is a little too low for the office, I’ll have to wear it out instead. Must be time for wine, no?

Project: Floral Dove Blouse by Megan Neilsen

Total Cost:$75

Fabric: $56

Pattern: $17 CAD

Notions:$2

Time: 10 hours, including PDF assembly

Techniques: French seams, French darts

Fit Adjustments: Straight size XS. I’ll need to shorten the length and raise the neckline next time.

 

 

Calling Spring: Archer Button-Up

February 10, 2017
Archer Button Up

Archer Button Up 

I had purchased this fabric intending to wait for warmer temperatures to make it, but judging by the amount of snow we just received, Spring is still very far away indeed. I decided to cheer myself up by diving into this woven from Andover fabrics (part of the Dream Weaves collection). It was very easy to work with, but, the right side and the wrong side of the fabric are nearly identical, so there were a few steps where I tripped myself up.

I made the 2nd variation of the Archer Button Up Shirt from Grainline Studio (AKA the Bum-Ruffle Shirt). This was my first Archer and it was easy to see why this is a mainstay for garment-sewers. It’s roomy and relaxed without looking like I stole my husband’s shirt and lends itself to endless customization. I opted not to use the breast pockets (they are a little too oversized and boob-tastic for me).

I made a size 6 and didn’t need any kind of a full-breast-adjustment – no pulling here! I used the burrito-roll technique for the shoulder seams and flat-felled others where I could, with mixed results. I found it difficult to flatten out the gathered seam allowance enough to create even seams around the shoulders. I did however, finally, remember to label my sleeves, so I actually put the correct sleeve on the appropriate side the first time around. I also followed the ever useful, alternate-collar-technique-tutorial from Four Square Walls for a hassle-free finish.

Project: Grainline Studio Archer Button Up

Total Cost: $81

Fabric:$50

Pattern: $21

Notions: $10

Time: 12 hours, including cutting out the pattern

Techniques: Flat-felled seams, sleeve plackets, burrito roll yokes

Fit: Straight size 6. I could use a narrow-shoulder adjustment next time.

What to work on: Ugh. Flat-felled seams with gathers.

 

 

Oslo Cardigan from Seamwork

February 6, 2017

Oslo CardiganOslo Cardigan Oslo Cardigan Oslo CardiganWhen Seamwork launched, I thought the articles were really interesting, but I wasn’t so sure about the patterns. I’ve been working to build my sewing skills beyond “quick and easy” projects, so I generally skipped over the designs. However, I kept seeing great versions of the Oslo Cardigan online and they always looked so comfortable and just like the kind of layer I like to have.

I downloaded the pattern and I’m happy to report that it is indeed great! As ever, I love how long the sleeves are. I made an extra small in a heathered green and black sweater knit from BlackBird Fabrics. It’s a different colour story of what I used for my DIY JCrew Linden. It’s so soft, but a bit more on the delicate side, so I omitted the buttons and buttonholes. The hem is finished with a twin needle (my machine played nicely this time). I’ve got my eye on a few other Seamwork patterns. I think I’ll use them like little palette cleansers in between more elaborate projects.

I’ve been sick all week and spent most of my time wrapped up in this sweater. Of course, now I want more of them. Next time with the buttons!

Project: Oslo Cardigan

Total Cost: $40.75

Pattern: $15.75 (CAD)

Fabric: $23

Notions: $2

Time: 2 hours, including PDF assembly

Fit Adjustments: None. Straight size XS.

 

 

 

Cozy January: Toaster Sweater #2

January 29, 2017
Toaster Sweater 2

Toaster Sweater 2When I saw the post for Project Sew My Style (an online sewing challenge to create a particular item each month) from Bluebird Fabrics on Instagram, I was eager to sign up and give my own handmade wardrobe project some added structure. Luckily for me, I’ve never made any of the designated patterns before. I’m looking forward to taking on some silhouettes that I might not have tried otherwise.

Making the Toaster Sweater was refreshingly quick, which was a relief after the intense projects I’ve been working on. I played around with the lengths of both the front and the back of the shirt and decided on adding one inch to the front and four inches to the back. Originally, I had been more drawn to Version 1 of the sweater, but once I got this on –  especially in my extended length – I didn’t want to take it off. The long sleeves make for a very cozy shirt.

I had a little trouble with the hem, as my machine was skipping stitches and the feed dogs were catching with the twin needle. I ripped out most of the hem and did it again. It’s not perfect, but it’s liveable. The fabric is some wonderfully soft french terry from Blackbird Fabrics. (It’s the forest colour.) I also ordered some of the charcoal option (for some Hudson Pants), and I’m hoping to play pattern Tetris and get another Toaster Sweater out of it as well. Being curvy and short, I tend to shy away from boxier tops, but the terry is light enough to drape nicely.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s makes. You can follow along on Instagram with #toastersweater2 and #sewmystyle.

Project: Toaster Sweater 2

Total Cost: $31

Pattern: $7.50 (PDF of Version 2 only with project discount)

Fabric: $21.50

Notions: $2

Fit: Size Small with added length

What to work on: Machine maintenance. Those feed dogs need some oil!

 

 

 

The Seamstress Tag

January 19, 2017

Last week, Maddie (from Maddie Made This)  put my name forward for The Seamstress Tag, a Proust Questionnaire for sewists, if you will, started by Jennifer from Ms. Jenny Homemaker. Thank you for thinking of me Maddie!

1) Who are you?

My name is Erica. I have an undergrad in English Lit and Irish Studies and Master of Library and Information Studies. I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with my partner and our Jack Russell, Yuri, who hates to have his picture taken. I grew up in a military family and have lived in several countries, and I’m a coffee lover with Celiac Disease.

2) When & why did you start sewing?

I started sewing over 8 years ago, on a whim. I was pretty inconsistent for the first few years and made a lot of 1950’s party dresses. I was always having a hard time finding what I wanted in stores and when I did find things I liked, they rarely fit me well.

3) What is your favourite or proudest make?

My Quart Coat. It involved the most construction techniques and I wear it all the time.

4) What is your most disastrous make?

The Ginger Jeans I am working on right now! I think I’ve made every mistake possible on them, including over-enthusiastically zipping off the zipper slider.

5) Where is your favourite place to go fabric shopping?

Patch Halifax! I love it there. It’s such a delight to get to buy something in person rather than online.

6) What is your most used pattern?

I could have a wardrobe of just Grainline Studios Linden Sweatshirts and Ginger Jeans. The are both fantastic basics that lend themselves to endless customization. I’ve got plans for more of both!

7) Your most dreaded sewing task is…

Pre-washing the fabric. Once I have that in my hands, I want to use it right away.  There is so little instant gratification in sewing.

8) And your favourite sewing task?

Topstitching. There’s some instant gratification! I like being able to see what I have done.

9) What is your favourite ‘sewing entertainment’?

Anything food related. I’ve made it through every episode of The Barefoot Contessa on Netflix and I love the podcast from America’s Test Kitchen.

10) Printed or PDF?

Both! I used to hate PDF’s but I have really come around to them. I like that I can print off a different size whenever I need and I find the taping and cutting kind of a zen activity after a while. I have yet to figure out a good way to store them, though, digitally or in my house.

11) What sewing machine do you use?

I have a hand-me-down Kenmore White that’s probably from Sears from the 80’s and it is SO LOUD. It handles big bulky projects very well, delicate ones less so. I have a Brother 1034D serger as well. 

12) Do you have any other hobbies?

I am a big fan of hot yoga. I also run, but begrudgingly. Most of the time, I’m happy that I did it, but I get really anxious beforehand. I am proud of the progress I’ve made. I used to be the kind of person who could only run on a treadmill while listening to music, watching TV, and looking at a magazine, all at the same time. Now I run outside – without music!

 

Now I nominate Sylvia from The Ravel Out and Samantha from the Couturious Blog. Would you like to play along?

JCrew DIY: Linden Sweatshirt from Grainline Studios

January 13, 2017
Linden Sweatshirt

Linden Sweatshirt

Linden SweatshirtLinden Sweatshirt  Linden Sweatshirt I am the worst kind of shopper: I will see something I like, mutter to myself, “I could make that” and walk away. Then, I rarely ever get around to making my own.

But not today! Instead, I have one of my favourite makes so far to show you.

When I saw the Gayle Sweater from JCrew pop up online, I knew I would easily be able to make my own version from the Linden Sweatshirt pattern from Grainline Studios. The ribbing of this soft sweater knit (another BlackBird Fabrics score) wasn’t an exact match, but I was perfectly happy to have something “inspired” by, rather than a direct copy (although I’m sure I knitting it would be possible, just not by me at this time.)

I have made several Linden sweatshirts over the years (you can see my most recent one here) and they remain some of the most-worn items in my closet. I haven’t worked with sweater knits that much before, but I have several projects made with them to show you this month! I was careful about my cutting and made my usual adjustments for this full-length version: I sized down drastically and cut the width of the band to match body pieces rather using the ribbed band. I also increased the width of the neckband (by about 2.5x) to accommodate the bow.

I’m so happy with it! It feels preppy without being precious and a little tuxedo-inspired.

Project: JCrew DIY Linden

Total cost: $50.99

Fabric: $23

Pattern:$21.00 CAD

Notions: $6.99

Fit: Size 2 for the body and sleeves, size 8 for the bottom band. Increased the width of the neckband.

What to work on: Learning to knit!