Pleated Collar Corduroy Jacket

I'm not quite sure what style to call this jacket.  With all of the tabs and buttons, it seems to have a military feel to it, but add in the pleated collar and sleeves, and it suddenly becomes very feminine!  I made this jacket for my daughter's 22nd birthday present.  She loves green and she loves corduroy, and I found a gorgeous hunter green knit backed corduroy in my stash.  I'm pretty sure that it is all polyester, and it's the only time I've ever seen this type of fabric!  It should be warmer than a cotton corduroy and less likely to stretch out of shape.  She picked out the pattern Simplicity 2313, View C.

This pattern has some really cute features, such as the pleated collar and sleeves, the curved in-seam pockets, and the zippered front with overlaid button tabs.  I think all of the other options in this pattern are cute, so I might make another view of it as well.

The hardest part of this was the curved pockets.   You have to be pretty exact in your marking to get them to lay right.  At first, I cut them out of lining fabric because I thought it would be too bulky to have multiple layers of corduroy right at the abdomen.  However, when I sewed them in place, the lining was too visible.  So, I went back to the cutting board and made them out of the corduroy.  I don't think it is too bulky after all.
For the lining, I used a leftover piece of silk charmeuse in a tropical print.  I thought it might make her think of warm sunny places on a chilly day.  

Here she is with her proud Papa wearing her new jacket.  Can you tell she likes green?

Happy Birthday, Ariana!


Vogue 1198 Sandra Betzina Leather Jacket

After my venture into sewing leather with a basic purse, I tackled sewing an actual jacket!  This one is a Sandra Betzina pattern, Vogue 1198.  I love sewing with Sandra's patterns, as they fit me so well.

Sandra writes great directions, and I always learn something new whenever I make one of her patterns.  This time I learned her technique for inserting a sleeve lining that was different than I've ever seen before

 I used copper metallic goatskins that I bought years ago at a very good price.  It wouldn't be my first choice, but I think if I wear this at night, it won't be quite as loud!

I made a scarf to go with it from a length of  chiffon that I had.  I just cut a rectangle 2-1/2 yd long by 14 inches wide, and then narrow hemmed the unfinished edges.  Do you think the leopard is too much with this?   

This jacket went together very well.  I used binder clips instead of pins to hold the pieces together.  And since you really can't press the seam allowances open, I topstitched on each side of the seams 1/4" away from the seamline to flatten the seam allowances.  I used a size 14 leather needle, regular polyester thread, and a walking foot whenever I could.
Using binder clips instead of pins.
Topstitching to flatten seam allowances.

  The jacket has 5 zippers- one front, 2 pocket and 2 sleeves.  I used metal ones to go with the metallic copper finish of the leather.

The belt in the back is just two 1 inch width elastic lengths sandwiched between a layer of leather and a layer of lining.  I love this belt!  I think it is my favorite part of the jacket.  Overall the jacket is fitted, yet extremely comfortable.  The only alterations that I made to the pattern were lengthening the sleeves 1 inch and the body 2 inches. 

For the collar, I interfaced it with fusible fleece on a wool setting for 10 seconds, and then used lining for the underlayer.  It has a good solid feeling to it.  You can see it better in the picture where the jacket is open.

My daughter just walked out the door wearing this.  I didn't think it would take long, but I thought I would at least get to finish my blog post!

I will definitely not be scared of sewing leather anymore.  It is really wonderful to work with.  Just go slow, get the right tools, and have fun with it!


Ellie Inspired Interview and E-pattern Giveaway!

School Girl e-pattern

I'm happy to introduce to you, a new and very talented pattern designer- Laura Johnson from Ellie Inspired patterns! Laura has just released several new adorable designs, and she has graciously offered our readers a chance to win TWO giveaways!  Instructions on how to enter are at the end of this post.

One winner will get the complete collection of Nursery Rhyme e-patterns for sizes 1-5 (Pocket o' Posies, Lucy Locket, Sugar Horses, Daisy Bell, Dancer, and Daddy's Girl). One winner will get the complete collection of It's a Girl Thing e-patterns for sizes 4-12 (Sweet Daisy Girl, Twirl Girl, School Girl, and I will also include Dancer since it goes up to size 8). Both winners will also be able to add to their prize two new patterns not even released yet! Lil' Bluebird (sizes 1-5) and Nanny Etticoat (sizes 1-12!!!!) will be coming out next week but you will be the first to receive them!

Where did you grow-up, where did you go to school, where do you live now? Tell us about your family.

I am also in Illinois in a small rural town not even on the map. I actually live just down the road from where I grew up so my kids get to ride their bikes to Grandma's. My husband also is from the area so our kids are very fortunate to have both sets of grandparents living so close to them as well as cousins and aunts and uncles.

I am married to my high school sweetheart. He has been so supportive of me starting Ellie Inspired. He is my pattern-packer, my dress stand builder, and my encouragement. We just celebrated 11 years of marriage and have four children. Of course I'm biased but I feel so very blessed with the sweet children I've been entrusted with. Our oldest, Nathan, is 7 and in second grade. Our next son, Jacob, is 6 and in 1st grade. Our third son, Seth just turned 5 and will go to school next year. And our youngest, Elisabeth, is 2 and somehow managed to beat the boys to the emergency room by being the first one to break a bone. You can read about it on my blog!

We moved into our home about 3 years ago after dreaming for a long time about building it. I couldn't wait to have my big garden and my chickens! Once we moved in, I started decorating. Home dec sewing is definitely NOT my favorite! But very shortly after, I was very surprised to learn I was pregnant. Our fourth child, Elisabeth was added to our family and I finally had the chance to sew for a little girl.

I have lots of memories sewing with my mom and lots of pictures of dresses that she made my sister and me. I also remember my grandma making doll clothes for me when I was little and teaching me to love sewing as well. It is such a beautiful thing now for me to pass that legacy down to my daughter.

I describe my patterns on my site as "love clothes" for your little blessing because that is truly what it is when you sew for a child. Love is wrapped in every stitch.

How did you learn how to sew, and what inspired you to start your own pattern line?

I learned to sew when I was very young. I remember trying to imitate my mom by weaving yarn in and out of paper and thinking that I was pretty awesome! I continued to learn as I grew older through my mom, grandma, school programs and community sewing guilds but my sewing really started to take on a new life when I had Elisabeth. A good friend invited me to a sewing forum where I encountered sewing like I had never seen before. I remember just being amazed and soaking up all the heirloom sewing skills as fast as I could. I learned to smock and fell in love with it. The more I learn, the more I realize that I have yet to learn and that is what makes sewing so exciting to me.

I never set out to create patterns. I feel that it is a path God has led me to and it is an incredible blessing to me. I have met so many amazing and talented women through this journey and I am very thankful for it. I started sewing samples for a fabric shop at the beginning of this year and when she found out that I rarely used a pattern when I sewed dresses for Elisabeth, she asked me if I had any patterns that were written down. She offered to sell them in her shop if I ever decided to start creating patterns and with excitement and a great deal of fear, I decided to go for it.

I found out that I love it! I had such a wonderful and tremendous response to my first two patterns that I kept adding to my collections. After time, they fell into two collections for two size ranges: the Nursery Rhyme collection is for sizes 1-5 and the It's a Girl Thing collection is for sizes 4-12. After less than a year of creating patterns, I am excited to say that I have 9 patterns currently out and at least 7 more in various stages of testing and writing that will be out before the end of the year! I also have several free patterns available on my site.

What advice do you have for beginning sewers?
My advice to beginning sewers is to just soak up all that you can. We have so many wonderful resources available for learning from sewing magazines and community sewing guilds to sewing forums and online classes and correspondence classes. Try new things and if they don't turn out the first time, don't worry about it! We all have our share of "wadders" or garments that will never really ever be worn! That is how you learn. Buy the best fabric that you can afford because it makes such a huge difference in how your garments turn out. Take your time and enjoy the process.

What makes your patterns unique?
I thought a lot about this question and it is something I have given a great deal of thought to all along trying to establish my business. At first, I just created patterns that felt like me. I discovered my style is "classic". It has been interesting when I have heard others describe my patterns in the same way. I try always to deliver a fresh take on a beloved classic.

Some specific things that make my patterns unique are: my Nursery Rhyme collection always feature a Nursery Rhyme on the back and follow that theme throughout the pattern. Every single pattern of mine includes either smocking or a simple hand-embroidery design and sometimes both. These are always optional but they are things that I love and things that give a garment something extra special. My new "It's a Girl Thing" collection for sizes 4-12 all have titles that end in girl such as Twirl Girl, School Girl, Sweet Daisy Girl (the older sister to Daisy Bell), and soon to be available Urban Girl and Sassy Girl. These are trendier to appeal to older ages but still based upon classic styling.

My pattern collections overlap in size slightly for a reason. In the Midwest, at least where I live, there are not a lot of heirloom sewing resources and so, it is not something that is seen very often. When little girls are born, they are given cute little jumpers instead of smocked bishops to wear. A smocked Pocket o' Posies outfit with shorts or bloomers for a 5 yr old would be perfect in some areas of the country but not in others. So, my It's a Girl Thing collection of patterns which are a little trendier start at size 4 instead of size 6.

My patterns are tested and edited extensively and you can be confident that the instructions will be clear and easy to follow with many diagrams to help you along the way. I spend a lot of time on my diagrams and have improved the quality of them dramatically from my first patterns. My patterns now are in full-color with fun graphics and an easy layout but I always check that they print clearly in gray-scale as well in case people want to print them that way. I am very mindful of keeping my patterns short without sacrificing any content. All of my patterns are available as instant downloads. A few of the smaller sizes are available in paper patterns and all of them are also available as CD's. My plan this fall and winter is to get all of my patterns printed as paper patterns for those who prefer that format.

Thanks so much for inviting me to be a small part of SewBaby and taking the time to ask me questions. It was fun! Good luck to everyone on the Giveaway!


This giveaway is now closed.  Congratulatons to the winners- D'Andra and JuneBug!

You can see all of Ellie Inspired patterns on our website here:  Ellie Inspired patterns.

Sewing with Leather- a beginner's experience

On a whim, I bought some metallic copper goat leather skins online a couple of years ago.  Never having sewn with leather before, I bought them mainly because they were a cheap price, and I wanted something to experiment on.  When I got them, the metallic finish was *WAY* more metallic than I had anticipated.  They also smelled pretty strongly of chemicals.  I aired them outside for a few days, and then put them away until now.

I've been noticing a lot of metallic finishes in fashion this year, so I decided this was the time to take the plunge.  I bought enough for a jacket (which I have already cut out) and I had enough left to do a purse.  I thought I would start with the purse, and then work my way up to the jacket.

Burnt leather
The purse pattern I chose was Vogue 8310 (now discontinued)- basically several variations of a hobo bag.   The first thing that I had to do was interface the bag.  I chose fusible fleece to give it more body.  Here is my first attempt at fusing for 20 seconds at the cotton setting.  It took the finish off, burnt the leather and made it stiff as cardboard!  Lesson #1 learned- leather doesn't like heat. The next time I fused the interfacing for only 10 seconds at the wool setting, and it didn't change the leather at all. 

Pieced together from remnants
This was a pretty big piece of leather that I had now destroyed.  I didn't have enough leather in one piece to fit the pattern piece on, so I pieced some of them together.  I used a size 14 leather needle and it sewed through the two layers beautifully.
I actually really like the pieced look!  
Tough area to sew- zipper meets straps
This purse design is very basic- just 3 outer pattern pieces- a strap, a side piece, and a front/back piece.  The difficult part of this piece was where the straps meet the purse.  There are so many layers there that I broke 3 leather needles trying to get this part done.  Although I had used an upholstery weight thread for most of the construction, when I switched to regular weight thread, I was able to get the stitches to hold in this area.  I had to hand crank the wheel on the sewing machine, but it worked.  If I were to choose this pattern again for a leather purse, I would use the rings in this section, so that you aren't sewing sew many layers together.

I have to share where I found the zipper-  They have all lengths of metal separating zippers for about  $.50, and if you've ever priced them in a fabric store, you will know that this is a steal.  I didn't need the separating aspect of it, so I just hand sewed a few stitches above the separating end, so that it will stay together.

Funky blueberry print lining
The purse is lined with a pocket with two compartments.  My lining is a polyester charmeuse.  It is one of those fabrics that I ordered thinking it was little blueberries, and when I got it, the blueberries were HUGE.  Blueberries have a personal significance for me, and you hardly ever find fabrics with blueberries, so I kept it. I would never wear it, but it works fine for this lining!

The strap length was really long- I think it was probably meant to be a cross-body bag.  However, when I tried it on, my 17 year old daughter said that length was "fine if you are 13".  In other words, "Mom, you are too old for a cross body bag."   So, I cropped it about 8 inches to make it hit at my high hip.

My 19 year old daughter came home from college the same day, and said "You made that?  I would totally buy that.  Can I borrow it tonight?".

I call that a home run!  Now, wish me luck on the jacket.:)