Category Archives: sewing

brocade + bonus meowser

Pleated brocade skirt

Pleated brocade skirt

Pleated brocade skirt

Pleated brocade skirt

Pleated brocade skirtMy feline friend came to visit while I was taking photos hehe. 

I actually made this skirt ages ago but it’s taken me forever to photograph it. I picked this fabric up at a rummage sale for something like $3. At first it was going to be some kind of zippy crop top, possibly with a peplum. Then I decided I would probably never wear that and fell down the rabbit hole of brocade skirts on Pinterest. Then it was an issue of whether it should be a Moss skirt, a pleated skirt, or something in between. I decided to go with the pleats.

It’s pretty basic, really. The Armstrong book talks about all kinds of technical shenanigans for making pleats but to be honest, I just measure out a waistband in the right size and then fuss with the pleats until they fit the waistband. The result is probably not quite as neat as it could be, but meh.

Helpful pleating tip: regardless of whether you measure out your pleats ahead of time, try to angle them so the inside fold of the pleat sticks out past the edge of the fabric. This keeps them from splaying open and keeps them nice and neat.

The top is actually a cropped Nettie top that I’m wearing backwards. It’s not technically meant to be reversible but I was getting dressed one day and the low scoop neck didn’t quite work with the outfit so I decided to try turning it around. The shoulders end up being slightly off but not really noticeably.

Now excuse me while I go pet the kitty who is currently indignantly meowing because I ignored him while I finished taking photos. (For the record, after that photo, he settled about halfway between me and the camera and licked his bits — out of view, thankfully.)

Adventures in drafting – overalls

Overalls

Overalls

Overalls

Overalls

Overalls

Overalls

Overalls

I was sooo sad when my pants drafting class ended. Huge sad face.

The class was taught by Lynda Maynard (who also taught the Copying RTW class I took over the summer) and it was so much fun and I feel like a master of crotch fit now. That sounds dirty. But then again, so did most of the class. We used Suzy Furrer’s book* and drafted from our own measurements, and then it was just making muslins to tweak the fit. The rest of the class consisted of taking turns putting on our muslins and standing on a table while the entire class investigated our lower halves and volunteers pinned out corrections. Super hilarious and super fun. I used my draft to make a pair of skinny jeans (more on these later) and then just because I thought it was hilarious that she included it in the book, I also drafted the overalls as my final project for the class.

*It’s weirdly super expensive on Amazon so I would check elsewhere first. I snagged my copy from my school bookstore for like $60. (EDIT — A reader helpfully suggested this link, where you can get it for $65 plus shipping. Thanks Anastacia!)

These overalls are SOCOMFY. I started off following Suzy Furrer’s drafting instructions but like most drafting books I’ve worked with, there are no construction details so I got really confused about the button facings and why there needed to be front and back ones of the same shape. I ended up kind of deviating completely from the book and basically just drafted a copy of these Madewell overalls.  I tried something new with the pockets and basically added a muslin lining and then attached them as patch pockets. I also used two strands of gray thread instead of topstitching thread (someone in my class did that and it looked really cool).

I actually really love them in a lighter wash so I’m thinking I might need to make them someday when these wear out because I’m not sure I needed a pair of overalls, much less two pairs. The fit is mostly spot on, I think they’re just a bit baggier than the leggings/tights/skinny jeans I’m used to wearing. I do think the bib is a bit long and I had wanted to add a front pocket but didn’t get around to it before class started. Whoops.

**If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to learn the ins and outs of fitting your crotchal region, Lynda teaches this class every fall at Cañada. (She also used to teach a pants construction class here that I’ve been unsuccessfully campaigning for them to bring back.)

 

Accidental Sashiko

Sashiko dress

Sashiko dress

Sashiko dress

Sashiko dress

Sashiko dress

There’s a funny story behind this dress. Several months ago I got one of those “Here are all the things your stash needs!” emails from Fabric.com and one of the fabrics pictured caught my eye. I forget the designer (I want to say Robert Kaufman but I might be lying) but it was this beautiful chambray with lines of thread running through it. I immediately thought of fun, simple, rustic-looking summer dresses. Except they were sold out of it in like five minutes because holy crap it was beautiful. The idea of those summer dresses stuck in my head though, so after I took Copying RTW and made the flower-picking dress pattern, I decided maybe I should make my own stitched fabric. By hand.

Meanwhile, I had also come across Japanese-style mending on Pinterest, which if you aren’t familiar with, you should check out immediately because it makes me want to “mend” all of my clothes, regardless of state of wear and tear.

Anyway, those two ideas squashed together and I grabbed some cotton crochet thread and the needle with the fattest eye I could find and started stitching away at the two yards of gorgeous cotton chambray I picked up at Stone Mountain and Daughter.

It took.. forever. At least two seasons of Arrow. (salmon ladder ftw)

When I was about 86% done, I showed it to a friend, who said “Oh! Are you doing sashiko?” My response was “No, I’m just stitching.” When I was about 92% done, I showed a photo of it to another friend, who said “I can’t believe you’re sashiko-ing your own fabric!” It was around then that I figured I should probably look up what sashiko was. Whoops. And then around 95% completion, a third friend recommended a sashiko needle, which I didn’t even know existed. And lastly, when I showed up in my pants drafting class (taught by Lynda Maynard, who had also taught the Copying RTW class), Lynda started telling me all about her sashiko machine.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that this took forever and I need to look into different needle types because I also didn’t know that beading needles exists. But that’s a whole other embarrassing story.

 

Toasty


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DSC_0483jacket: pattern here 

Was everyone keeping Waffle Patterns a secret from me??

I discovered them a while ago actually, and I remember my impression being that all of her samples looked impeccably, perfectly put together and that I loved the shapes of her garments but wasn’t sure I could pull them off. For some reason I was also worried her patterns might be a bit more hands off and geared toward more advanced sewers who don’t need much in the way of instruction.

Now, I would definitely say that Tosti is an advanced pattern, but she does hold your hand every step of the way. She has graphics illustrating literally every step and everything is marked clearly. Some of the trickier steps are even explained in further depth with photo tutorials on her blog!

The other thing I loved was that the way the pattern is drafted meant that I didn’t have to do much to the pattern before I started sewing. First off, the seam allowances are 1/2″, which I’ve gotten used to using when I draft. The sleeves were the perfect length on me (I have monkey arms and my wrists gets cold so I like my sleeves a little past the wrist bone), and the jacket itself is the perfect length on me! The shoulder seam is shifted to the front a bit so it sits on your actual shoulder. The only thing I had to change was to rotate the sleeve in the armhole a little because my shoulders point forward, which changes where I need extra fabric in the cap. I didn’t actually change the draft or anything, I just rotated everything about 3/4″ forwards and ignored the fact that notches/seams no longer match up. No one’s looking at my armpits anyway (hopefully). AND she’s included layers in the PDF so you can select which size(s) you want to print and only print those! I sewed a straight 38 so I just unclicked all the other sizes and only the lines (stitching lines and cutting lines) for the 38 showed up. She also gives you simple instructions for how to do this if you (like me) had no idea this was even a thing. (Why doesn’t everyone do this??)

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I started with a straight muslin where no changes were made. I did sew the first sleeve as indicated and noticed some poufing in the back so I sewed the second one rotated to compare. I was really thrilled with the way everything fit as drafted!

For my jacket, I knew pretty much immediately that I wanted one in a dusty navy color, with a plaid flannel lining and fur-trimmed collar. I got 100% navy cotton twill at Joann’s and I used a plaid flannel from my stash for the lining of the main coat. I was SO CAREFUL with my plaid matching except I completely forgot about it when cutting out my upper/lower pieces on the left side. Somehow I managed to get half the lines matched but it still bugs me.

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I lined the sleeves with a tan lining fabric from my stash (destashing ftw!) and while they feel great and my arms slide in super easily, I kind of wish I’d used a darker shade so there wasn’t such a stark contrast. Oh well. I also added plaid elbow patches to the sleeves because why not.

Concerning pockets: I think everyone knows I love pockets. Obviously you look at any of her samples and immediately notice “Wow, lots of pockets!” When I realized she’d included instructions for SIX different customizable pocket options I nearly died of happiness and wanted to try one of each. I decided to go with Pockets A (flap pocket on chest), B (zip pocket on opposite side of chest), C (bellows pockets with flaps), E (arm zip pocket), and F (double welt pocket on inside). And believe me, I only left out Pocket D because it would’ve been weird if the large front ones didn’t match.

Also, this isn’t included in the pattern PDF but she did post this tutorial on how to add a fur trim to the hood. I saw her jacket and immediately drooled all over the navy twill I bought. It was a bit of an adventure finding the right faux fur. At first I went to Britex but the only one they had that was remotely the right color family was slightly too greenish and was $75/yard fur with a cutting minimum of 1/2 yard. Fabric.com had the same cutting minimum and I really only wanted like 6″. Etsy was also a fail, since people were mostly selling giant pieces for baby photo shoot backdrops (weirdly specific). Eventually Joanns of all places came through and I picked up this gorgeous foxy faux fur that is super soft and goes so well with the blue. Fun tip: look for a faux fur that has modacrylic in it (mine is 10%). It mimics animal hair growth patterns, is super soft and realistic looking, and self-extingushing. (Thanks Textiles class!)

The snap buttons are from Joanns and were super easy to install. You do need to buy the little attacher thing but it was like $3, and then all you need is a hammer. The zippers were from an Etsy store and I had SUCH a hard time finding a long separating zipper that matched the tiny pocket zippers that I ended up just ordering tiny separating zippers for the pockets. It wasn’t ideal but you can’t tell. Next time I think I’ll just have to be ok with slightly mismatched pocket zippers.

When I bought the pattern I kind of assumed I wouldn’t need two utility jackets like this and would only make another if this one needed to be replaced, but with how well it fits and how often I’ve been wearing this one, I think I’ve changed my mind. I’m thinking of doing an unlined version in the traditional army green. And maybe a quilted ventless vest version in some kind of wool with the shorter collar and fur-less hood.

Flower-picking

Copying RTW - blue dress

Copying RTW - blue dress

Copying RTW - blue dress

Copying RTW - blue dress

Copying RTW - blue dress

Copying RTW - blue dress

About a million years ago I bought this dress at Forever21. It was a cute little cotton floral dress with a lined bodice, back cut-out, gigantic pockets, and pretty wooden buttons along the back. It fit me perfectly and was the perfect comfy summer dress. Or the perfect dress for picking flowers and/or berries. I had to really resist making a flower crown for this post.

Anyway, over the years I’ve gotten rid of every other Forever21 purchase but I could never seem to let go of this one. I had this idea that I was going to try to make more of them but it never really seemed to happen. Then this summer I took a Copying Ready to Wear class at school. I decided to use a coat as my class project so I could learn all the more difficult stuff, but as soon as class was over I used the same techniques to whip up this dress. (And then immediately made a second one, and started a third. More on those later.)

Copying RTW - F21 dress

Copying RTW - F21 dress

I used this Cotton + Steel fabric (I actually ordered it from Craftsy but they don’t seem to have it anymore) and it’s so so so perfect. It’s got the great crispness of cotton which is perfect for all those gathers and the pockets, but it’s a lawn so lightweight and doesn’t look like it’s made of quilting cotton. Insert heart eyes here. And then there’s the buttons!! I knew I wanted wooden ones but I was in one of those situations where I wanted the dress to be done RIGHTTHISMINUTE so I could wear it, so I only had time to go to Joann’s. The only ones they had that were wood and big enough were these stupid square ones. Except then I realized if I turned them a bit they became diamonds and suddenly they fit perfectly with the print. *squee*

The nice thing about this technique for copying RTW garments is that you don’t actually have to take the garment apart. It can be rather time-consuming though, so you do want to make sure you’re putting all the work in for a garment you’d actually want to wear in the end. The super simplified gist of it is you mark grain lines on the RTW garment with thread, then use marked silk organza and about a million pins to trace seam lines and darts. Then you transfer those to tissue, true up your lines, and you’ve got a pattern of your RTW garment.

copying RTW F21 dress

If you’re interested in the more in-depth version of this, the book we used in class was “Making Garments from Existing Garments” by Kenneth King. It’s fairly in depth with lots of photos which makes the process pretty easy to follow. I believe his Jean-ius class on Craftsy uses the same technique if you’re a more visual learner. And of course, if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, you should just hop over to Canada College and take the class with Lynda Maynard because she’s fantastic. (Although I’m not sure if it’s offered every summer. Might be every other summer.)

In other news, these are my new favorite pockets and I want to add them to cardigans and other full-skirted dresses. You basically just cut them wider at the top edge than the bottom edge (like a trapezoid), but then stitch the side seams parallel so the excess from the top edge falls away from the garment.

Now excuse me while I go find some berries to pick. I have a sudden blackberry craving.