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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!

Teal Flannel: Deer and Doe Bruyere

January 6, 2017
Bruyere Shirt

Bruyere Shirt  The Bruyere Shirt from Deer and Doe is a tried-and-true pattern for me. I’ve made several versions before and am always happy with the results. In the past, I have gone up a size and then taken it in as needed, but this time I opted to make my true size just to see the difference.  I still removed some of the width of the upper arm, but the fit was pretty good without any kind of full-bust-adjustment. I think I would still try one next time, to help move the waistband down a bit.

Not that I didn’t make any changes, though: I like to interface the waistband as well, which means I also add a lining that piece. I used French seams where I could, but I’ll flat-fell them next time. I took out about 1 inch of length on the bottom pieces, but I feel like I could take out even more. I also moved the button-holes down an inch (I like to line up one within the waistband and go from there).

I was happy to conquer the sleeve plackets this time! I used the pattern piece (and instructions) from the Colette Negroni which was quick, easy and gives a clean finish. I did laugh at how big they are, though. I need to grade the pattern piece down for a better proportion on a woman’s shirt. I was excited that I got them to work, but they feel comically oversized. THEY ARE ALL-CAP PLACKETS. I also sewed the arms on the wrong sides at first and the plackets ended up right at the front. I must remember to mark which arm is which!

I knew I was going to need some long sleeved shirts for winter and this teal Robert Kauffman Shetland Flannel (bought at the lovely Patch Halifax) is so comfortable. I ended up taking out one layer of the interfacing on the collar because the fabric is so thick. I found it was almost too think for the button plackets and they are a little stiff. I’m hoping they will relax after a few washings. This shirt got a lot of wear over the holidays. It’s great for layering and I’ve worn it with leggings around the house and a blazer and trousers out for drinks. (I also have it on in this news story about my project!)

Project: Bruyere Shirt

Total Cost: $76

Pattern: $20 (CAD)

Fabric: $50

Notions: $6

Time: 8 hours

Fit: I made a straight size 38, removing 1 inch of width from the arms and 1 inch of length from the bottom of the shirt.

What to work on: a quick make! This shirt includes 9 button holes, sleeve plackets, pleats, darts, a collar, etc. etc. After this and my winter coats, I’m ready for some less intensive projects.

 

Wardrobe Update #1

December 30, 2016

 

It’s time to check on the stats of my wardrobe project.

I’ve made 12 garments in total in the past five months. While I am proud of that (there are some very big projects hidden in that number), it shows me that I need to ramp up my production.

The percentage of handmade items compared to store-bought items has grown from 11% to 23%, but this is also because I have been able to get rid of some additional garments (my total number of garments has actually gone down from 94 to 92). You can see what I started with here.

So far, I have completed:

When I ran the totals, I had a moment of panic at the amount of money I’ve spent so far. I am rarely faced with the collected amount I spend on anything and I was a little surprised. However, if I went shopping and came home with all of those items for just $1000 I’d be high-fiving everybody. If I had charged (myself) for my labour–let’s say at $25.00 per hour ($50,000 per year pre taxes)–that would have moved the cost of those 12 items up by $3,400 for a total of $4,406.19.

There is a lot of fabric from unknown origins in my spreadsheet and I would like to work on changing that going forward. You’ll notice the price difference between the projects where you can trace the fabric and those of unknown origin.

Coming up on the Handmade Wardrobe:

2017 Make Nine Handmade Wardrobe

There’s a lot of spring in that collage and we’ve got at least four months of winter to get through first. Expect sweaters, long sleeve shirts, skirts and maybe a dress or two in the coming months.

 

 

 

Slow Fashion Army: Pauline Alice Quart Coat

December 7, 2016
Pauline Alice Quart Coat

Pauline Alice Quart CoatPauline Alice Quart CoatQuart Coat Insideimg_5650 img_5654 Pauline Alice Quart Coat 3Second up in my series of coats is the Pauline Alice Quart Coat. This coat is far more tailored in both style and construction than my Cascade Duffle Coat. This dramatic coat features many design elements, including princess seams, epaulettes, pleats and exposed zippers on the sleeves. I used a black Melton wool and Kasha (a double-faced satin/flannel fabric) for the lining.

I learned many new techniques for this project. There is so much interfacing in this coat (you can see more behind-the-scenes on my Instagram) and I certainly appreciated the extra effort once it all came together. I ended up adding even more interfacing to the collar and tacked down the side pleats because they were giving a fluting effect to the bottom of the coat that I wasn’t keen on. This was the first time I’ve put exposed zippers on a sleeve and also the first time I’ve MADE BOUND BUTTONHOLES! They aren’t easily visible in a photograph of a black coat, but they are there and they are glorious. I used the Sewaholic tutorial for reference and just took it step by step. Like everything in sewing, it wasn’t nearly as complicated or scary as I expected it to be.

I did have a little trouble with the instructions though. There are multiple steps in text followed by several illustrations in a row and I had to really focus to stay on track. The instruction booklet comes in three languages, so I can understand that a more detailed layout would result in something the length of a textbook. There is also a pdf “sewalong” and I found myself using that more often.

I am very proud of this garment. It’s a great coat – maybe even too great. It doesn’t look homemade, so no one (who didn’t already know that I was working on it) has asked me if it’s my own work. It feels like a secret I am bursting to casually drop into the conversation:

“I made this.”

Project: Pauline Alice Quart Coat

Hours to complete: 45

Total Cost $208.49

Pattern: $19.99

Fabric: $157 for outer and lining fabric

Notions (buttons, zippers, thread, shoulder pads etc.): $31.50

Fit: Straight size 40. I could have used a small swayback adjustment in the back.

Techniques: Bound buttonholes, shoulder caps and pads pleating, hand sewing.

What to work on: More scary things! Bring on the bras!

Burberry, by Me: The Cascade Duffle Coat

November 22, 2016
Cascade Duffle Coat

Cascade Duffle Coat Cascade Duffle CoatCascae Duffle Coat 4Cascade Duffle CoatCascade Duffle CoatCascade Duffle CoatCascade Duffle Coat

All images by North by North Photography

While I am passionate about mindful consumption, there is one category of clothing that I have decided not to place any restrictions on: outerwear. In previous years, I would only have one cold-weather coat, which I wore day after day after day, after day, after day. I live on the East Coast of Canada (we are basically North Maine), where snow is a usual occurrence from November well into May, with more than our share of storms thrown in for good measure. It is a very long season and I am often feeling as frayed at the edges as my sad coat by about February. So, in the interest of mental health, I hereby declare this the Year of the Coat!

First up in my series of outerwear is an item that I am so proud of, the Cascade Duffle Coat from Grainline Studios. I have been hoarding this beautiful Burberry fabric (bought online at Mood Fabrics) for over a year. I must have ordered exactly as much as I needed for my size (straight size 10) because I had just enough. It was scary to finally cut into it after all this time. I’m unsure of the fiber content, but it is so soft and warm. The only way I think of to describe it is sumptuous. I used Kasha for the lining (a fabric that is satin on one side and flannel on the other) and the coat feels cozy and substantial. It’s the nicest winter coat I’ve had in years and I finished it without a moment to spare – I saw my first snowflakes today.

As other sewists have pointed out, there are indeed 40 pieces to this pattern and the construction took me several 8 hour days and then some. I dyed the cording for the toggles with tea in order to tone down the original brilliant white colour. I love them, but I’m not sure how long they will hold up under bags and scarves and general winter weather. I may change them out for some made with twill tape instead. The coat itself is long, but I will take all the winter protection I can get! The pattern offers either a cropped or a long version, but I think I would like to try something that’s in-between as well.

When I told Alexa and Luke from North by North Photography that I wanted to have an outdoorsy shoot, they immediately suggested a trail that I’ve never been to and I’m so glad they did. Not only did I get some fantastic photos, but I also had a great morning hiking around the woods with them.

 

Project: Burberry Cascade Duffle Coat

Total Cost:$264 CAD

Pattern:$22

Fabric: $220 (including the coating, lining and interfacing)

Notions: $22

Fit: No alterations.

Techniques: Bagging a lining

What to work on: Gathering all my supplies in one go. I wish I had picked out fancier toggle buttons in the year I’ve had the fabric. I was all set to go with this project and then realised that I wouldn’t be able to get any toggles other than these locally.

 

 

 

 

Office Prep: Named Sointu Kimono Tee and Printed Ginger Jeans

November 1, 2016

Cropped Ginger Jeans ep_04ep_07ep_05 ep_03

One of my goals for this project was to create pieces that I could easily wear in a professional work setting. It can be a challenge to find ready-to-wear items that are a). age-appropriate and b). not boring. When I do find things I like I often have to alter them to fit properly anyway. I seem to be right in-between regular and petite sizing (I’m 5’2) and I have a curvy shape.

I stumbled across this great printed stretch-twill while looking for fabric to cover some chairs. It was mysteriously labeled “assorted denim” and I’m quite happy to report that it works easily for clothing. I used the Ginger Jeans pattern as a base, but eliminated many of the classic jean styling elements – including back pockets! I knew I would have matched the pattern of the pockets with the pant legs and they would have hopefully visually disappeared, so there didn’t seem to be much point in having them. I also have the Sewaholic Thurlow Trousers on my cutting table right now, but I prefer the higher waist of the Gingers – it’s very helpful when I am out on my bike. I am a frequent cyclist and having professional clothing I can bike in is a real plus.

The top is one that I can see myself creating many versions of, the Named Sointu Kimono Tee. I downloaded the PDF and had the top on in one afternoon! The only change I made was to shorten the length a bit. It’s basic but extremely useful and comfortable. And I can’t make everything in a dazzling print. The fabric is a fine sweater-knit I found at my local chain-store. I’ll be keeping an eye out for some heavier weight knits online – you only need a bit of fabric (I made it work with a 1/2 meter by adding in a seam at the center back and pieced the bias facing together) so I could really splurge if I wanted!

Lastly, thank you to my amazing photographers, the talented duo behind North by North Photography. Alexa and Luke immediately understood what I was looking for and made me laugh so much during our shoot.

Projects:

Printed Ginger Jeans

Total Cost: 60.48

Pattern: $24 (CAD)

Fabric: $22.48

Notions: $14

Fit: I went with a size 8 since I didn’t really know anything about the fabric content and that worked out quite well. There is a bit of bunching behind the knee, so I might try a full-calf-adjustment in the future.

Techniques: Pattern-matching where possible.

Named Sointu Kimono Tee

Total Cost: $27

Pattern: $10 (CAD)

Fabric: $11

Notions: $6

Fit: No alterations needed.

What to work on: Making more work clothes! I’ve already worn both items many times.

 

 

Very Slow Fashion: Carolyn Pajamas in Rifle Paper Co Fabric

October 6, 2016
Carolyn Pajamas in Rifle Paper Co Fabric

Carolyn Pajamas in Rifle Paper Co fabricCarolyn Pajamas in Rifle Paper Co fabricThis project really tested me and not in a way that I was expecting.

These are the Carolyn Pajamas from Closet Case Files, made in the Rifle Paper Co rayon from Cotton and Steel. They may be the prettiest things I own. They make me feel like a grown-up (and like I need more sophisticated bedding to match.) They have piping and french seams and I love them.

However, those fancy finishes add significantly to the sewing time and there were several points with this project where I thought, “I could just go buy a pair of pj pants for 12.99 at any store and be done with it.” In 30 minutes, I could have a cute new pair, for the price of a sandwich. There is very little instant gratification in sewing and it’s been surprising to see how trained I am to want something new, right away.

But, they would not be these pajamas. They would be the most basic, cheap things and clothing should not cost the same amount as the lunch special. My gorgeous pajamas are worth every extra bit of time I spent on them. And taking that time is hopefully going to help my brain learn to wait.

Some construction details:

I ended up making a second pair of shorts. The top is a size 6 and fits great, but the shorts are a slim cut and my original size 8 pair just fit. I like a little more lounge in my lounge-wear, so I went up two sizes for the next ones and extended the length of the cuffs. I used the beautiful selvedge edge of the fabric on the pocket and instead of the sleeve cuffs. I tried it as the trim on  the shorts first, but it gave them a bloomer-like effect that I didn’t like.

These pj’s are so soft and floaty! I am delighted with the final product. I will definitely be making flannel pair for the winter.

Project: Carolyn Pajamas in Rifle Paper Co fabric

Total Cost: $109

Pattern: $23 CAD

Fabric: $78

Notions $8

Time: I lost count, but I’d put them in the 15-20 hour range, including PDF assembly.

Fit: No specific alterations, but I’d increase the  width of the arm a bit next time.

What to work on: Patience. Just keep swimming.

Ginger Flares

September 13, 2016
Ginger Flares

Ginger FlaresGinger FlaresGinger FlaresGinger FlaresGinger FlaresOh man, these pants. What a difference from my first pair of Ginger Jeans! I decided to be bold and go down from a size 10 to a size 6 for the Ginger Flares from Closet Case Files. I hardly had to make any alterations to this size. I had measured myself for the last pair, but sometimes I have a hard time believing what the tape says and am convinced that I am either smaller or, most likely, bigger than that. My size also fluctuates easily, so I often feel like I don’t really know where to begin with a pattern.

Making jeans is so fun and easy and satisfying. While custom-fitting can take a bit of time, the actual construction process of jeans is very relaxing. I used the remaining yardage from my Cone Mills Kit, which is slightly lighter in weight and darker in colour than my other fabric. I used a notions kit from Thread Theory for the buttons, rivets, and zipper.

I have seen people with sewing blogs comment that making jeans was addictive, but I didn’t really believe them. Now, I understand. It’s all I want to make! This is great news, since when I started this project, I only had one pair of jeans and while they fit, I didn’t love them and only kept them out of desperation. I’m looking forward to getting rid of that pair and building up my collection.

Project: Ginger Flares

Total Cost: $98.00

Pattern: $18 USD + 7.50 for the flare expansion pack.

Fabric: $65.00. It was the other half was my Cone Mills denim kit from Closet Case Files.

Notions: 7.50

Time: 10 leisurely hours. This includes time for assembling and cutting the PDF expansion for the legs.

Fit: GREAT. I took 1 inch from the back waistline and 1.5 inches off the length, but I might increase that next time.

What to work on: Rivets. I have yet to find that magical balance between too long and too short. I’m either smashing through them or they come off.