Waterfall Jacket and Palazzo Pants

Just 11 more days until the New Year!  I feel like something a little fancy to celebrate this year, so I decided to sew up this waterfall jacket and palazzo pants ensemble.   Although it may look like a lot to sew, these were all pretty easy pieces made from knit fabrics, so it was very manageable!   My jacket was made from a sueded scuba knit from Fabric Mart using Simplicity 2150.  The pattern is out of print, but it was in print pretty recently and for a long time, so I bet lots of people have it at home.   Here's the original pattern- I made View B, but made mine with full length sleeves and added about 1-1/2" to the overall length.

Holiday Tops with Simplicity 1323

Happy December!  It's been a busy couple of months since I last posted- taking a trip to Germany and another to Colorado to visit my daughters, so sewing time has been a bit tricky to find!  But, with the cold weather hitting us early, I was inspired to make two tops from wool knits- a red double knit, and a blue single knit jersey (both from Fabric Mart), using the pattern Simplicity 1323.   It's out of print, but there are plenty of copies on Amazon still available if you like the striking style.  

I made view B with the V-neck and 3/4 length sleeves, but I added 1-1/2" to the body length of mine.  On my blue version, I added several inches to the sleeve length to make it a full long sleeve.   I also chose not to hem either of them, as I knew that hemming on the bias would be tricky, and since knits don't fray, it won't matter anyway!  The red double knit has more weight to it and hangs better, in my opinion.

Falling into Fall

When I was in college, I spent a summer in Finland, and stayed with a family there. It was a beautiful summer, and they had a summer cabin out in the woods. I loved their way of life, and remember being surrounded by green, and feeling so relaxed.  So, as I was perusing new titles at our local library, my eyes were drawn to a book about the Finnish concept of "Sisu".  What is Sisu? It's a unique word to Finns that describes their nationality personality- one of perseverance, determination and resilience.  And how do you get Sisu?  Well, this author had many suggestions, including walking in the forest to reduce stress and anxiety.  I thought, "I can do that!".  She said that 90% of Finns say that they go to the forest on a regular basis.  I don't know about you, but with all that is happening in the news lately, I've been feeling a little more stressed than I want to be.  You're probably wondering- what does this have to do with sewing??

Wine and Chocolate

Happy Fall!  Wine and Chocolate- two of my favorite things that go together so well! It's no wonder that I would be drawn to them as colors in my wardrobe too.  In my last post from August, I had shown you my sewing plans gathering fabrics in browns and reds for making some clothes for September and October.  I actually completed everything over the Labor Day weekend, but September has been too darn hot to even contemplate taking pictures of everything!  Finally, we've got some beautiful cool weather, so now I can show you! 

This dress is a rayon lycra knit, and I used New Look 6525 for the basic pattern, but just 3/4 length sleeves. I really like the variations in this pattern, and I can see it  becoming a TNT (Tried and True) style for me. 

One thing that I changed was to add a knit neckband.  The pattern instructions want you to use bias tape, which is never going to look as good on a knit fabric as a neckband will.

I also added some patch pockets, which you can see a little better close up.  I left the raw edge of the fabric on the ruffle, instead of turning it under, as I thought it would be a little easier to sew this way.

 You may be wondering, "Hey, where's the wine?  You promised wine and chocolate!".  Well, here it is- a cardigan from a sueded knit and using Simplicity 8740.  This is the back view, where you can see that I used a little elastic to draw it in at the waist.

Starting with the Shoes

Sometimes the best way to start a sewing plan is from the ground up.  And from the ground, I mean new shoes!  Yesterday, I was floundering about, looking at my fabrics and just couldn't settle on anything- I have too many options.  So, as I often do, I went to my favorite resale shop for inspiration.  There I found a pair of Merrell's with a pretty milk chocolate leather, trimmed in plum, in my size!  I loved the color combo, and they fit my specifications- low heel, good arch support, comfy without socks, and under $30.

So, I came home, and started checking out what fabrics would work with the shoes.  Going into September, October, I like darker, earthier shades.  First I found some rayon/lycra knit prints.  All of these were purchased while traveling. 

This first one I bought in Finland, way back in 2012.  I only have 1-1/2 yards of it, so it will have to be a top.

These next two were bought in Barcelona when we went there for Christmas in 2016. I have about 2-1/2 yards of each of these, so I'm thinking a long tunic or dress, but short sleeved, since it can still be quite hot in September/October. 

So, for bottoms to wear with the tops, I have a active wear knit in a cocoa brown, and a ponte knit in burgundy that I will make leggings out of.  I believe that these were both mystery bundle fabrics from Fabric Mart.

Then to extend the season and add some textural interest, I'll make some knit cardigans out of these two knits- a taupe patterned sweater knit and a sueded burgundy knit.  I found the sueded burgundy knit at our local re-use shop this summer.

I'm planning on visiting my daughter in Germany in October, and will be bringing this wardrobe with me.  A good travel purse is essential, and I also found this Baggallini cross body bag in taupe at the resale shop that will be ideal.

And lastly, I am a necklace girl, and had to make sure that I have enough necklaces to work with these fabrics.  The first purple one is from my mother's jewelry box, the second one was bought my daughter when she was in Argentina, and the red one with the birds was a present from my husband for our 25th anniversary.  So, all have personal meaning to me.  In contrast, I have no idea where these sunglasses came from- I don't remember buying them, but somehow  they ended up in my house, and I think they are pretty cool looking.

I can't wait to get started, but first I need to clean my house, buy some groceries, and prep some meals, cause once I get started sewing, I don't want to stop to cook or clean!  I'll keep everything in a laundry basket, so they are washed and ready to sew.  I'm sure that my patterns will be super simple- the prints are large, so I won't want a lot of seams to break things up.

Have you started sewing for fall yet?  How do you decide what to sew?

Happy Sewing!


The Making of My Dream Closet

As any seamstress knows, you can never have enough closet space!  When your hobby is making clothes, you don't want to hide them away, and you have more of an emotional attachment to them than you do store bought clothes, so you keep them longer.

After many decades of boxing up my wardrobe at the end of each season to store it and make room for the next season's clothes, I finally convinced my husband to give up his rarely used home office so that I could turn it into a walk-in closet/dressing room.  Convincing him was the hardest part- I seriously had to work on him for a good decade before he finally gave in! But, he would use his home office once a month to pay bills, and I knew that I would use the closet everyday. 

Here are my before photos.  We repainted the walls a soft blue before doing anything-its the same color as our bedroom, which is right across the hall, so it kinda of seems connected, and I don't have to go far to get dressed in the morning.   We decided to use an online closet company called Easy Closets.  They have an online design tool that you can put any measurement into and play around with various configurations.   We had to work around the window placements and doors, but they have units of all sizes, so you can do it.

"A Normal Day" Costume Design

I've had such an interesting year in regards to doing things with my sewing skills that would be considered "out of the box".  Most recently, I was asked to be the Costume Designer for a short film, A Normal Day!  The film was part of a a student screenwriting competition in our community called Pens to Lens.  Students submit screenplays, and local movie makers turn them into films.

I honestly had no idea what I would need to do to be a costume designer, but luckily, the director of our film, had worked with costume designers before, and filled me in.  Basically, anything a person is wearing is the costume designer's responsibility- so clothing, shoes, glasses, jewelry, etc., are all under the umbrella of the costume designer.  You don't have to sew everything as long as the pieces are readily available- just procure everything.  I found most of the things on ebay, amazon or thrift stores, and then added some details like the eyelet and rick rack on the waitress costume.

I only had a couple of weeks to put things together, so fortunately, our film only had a few characters to dress and the director had very specific instructions.  He wanted to combine retro elements with super modern elements, use the colors red and blue to highlight the retro elements, and grey for the modern elements.
So here you can see a retro waitress costume combined with a digital namebadge, and a tablet.  And our extras were all dressed in grey.

Sewing up the oldies: Kwik Sew 2762 and 3306

I have an enviable pattern collection, dating back to the 70's.  Some people might be put off by it, but it gives me a lot of joy!  One of the aspects of my pattern collection that is particularly nice is I have a lot of the old original Kwik Sew patterns.  Kwik Sew is now a part of the McCalls franchise, as is Butterick, Vogue and Simplicity, but they haven't been producing a lot of patterns as of late.  When I bought most of mine was in the 90's, early 2000's, when it was still an independent company, producing their patterns on white paper with each of the sizes drawn in a different color. They are a dream to work with!  I often stalk ebay to see if there are any of the older styles that I've missed! 

This first dress was made using Kwik Sew 2762 from 1997.  This is a t-shirt dress that can be made with or with hood and kangaroo pocket.  It's got a side slit on one side only.  I think that a lot of Kwik Sew patterns are basic designs that are timeless, and this one falls in that category.  Use whatever hem length is in style for your particular decade!  I'm thinking that longer hem lengths are coming back, so I made mine long. 

This is the perfect little sporty, run around town dress.  I made mine using a very nice cotton/linen/lycra knit from Fabric Mart.  It's breathable and opaque, with a nice enough heft that you don't see lumps and bumps through it.  I thought the solid cream would be a little too plain, so I used a black cover stitch to highlight the pocket and hems.  And I dyed a white drawstring a dark gray for accent.

The natural fibers do wrinkle, as you can see from the back, but that's okay with me- I'd rather be wrinkled than sweaty!  The Kwik Sew draft is different than the other big 4 patterns, and for me the size large fits without alterations in most cases.  Sometimes the shoulders are too wide, so I'll merge over to a smaller size on the shoulder width, but that's about it.  They are definitely drafted for taller women, yay!!!! I never have to add any length to a Kwik Sew pattern.

Another pattern that I've always wanted to make from the Kwik Sew line was Kwik Sew 3306 from 2005. This is a tank dress for wovens with two interesting hemlines. The really nice thing that you can't see in my photos is the construction of the neckline and sleeves.  It has a one piece facing that finishes the neckline and armholes, so you don't need to worry about facings flipping out on you while you are wearing it!

This was made using a black cotton gauze.  I can't say that I know alot about the construction of gauze fabric, but this one was very delicate and is literally tearable- no scissors needed.  So, I needed to be careful to not choose a style that was fitted in anyway, or else the seams might tear while wearing it!

I graded out to a larger size than I needed because of this, and I think that it really looks better with a belt. But if it's a really hot day, I'll be wearing it sans belt!

If you are a pattern collector, do you have either of these patterns in your collection?

Do you remember the Kwik Sew patterns with the white paper?

Happy Sewing!

Vogue 1586: the third time is the charm

I know that some people think that after sewing for as long as I have (I'm not going to go into how many years that is!), that I probably don't have much to learn.  LOL!  If that was the case, I would have been bored with sewing years ago.  I recently heard a woman on TV describing her husband, saying that he was better than perfect, because if he was perfect, he would always stay the same, but since he's not perfect, he becomes better every day.  I feel the same way about my sewing.  Luckily, every new project is a new challenge, and some more challenging than others.  There are the technically challenging things, like welt pockets and buttonholes which still elude me, and then there are the design challenging things, like picking the right fabric to go with the right style for the right body.  With this project, the latter was the challenge.

This is Vogue 1586, a recent release by Tracy Reese.  Isn't it beautiful on the model?  I really wasn't sure what fabric that they used for this version, as the fabric recommendations say "jacquard, crepe and matte jersey".   So, in reading that, I thought, well pretty much anything goes! 
My first version was from a stretch cotton poplin, and I cut out the size that matched my measurements.  I don't have pictures because it was a total disaster, both fit and fabric match.  The thing that you can't see unless you look very closely at the photo, is that the collar is a single layer and is narrow-hemmed.   This means that you need to choose a fabric that will lay back nicely when folded, look good from both sides, and look good narrow-hemmed.  The poplin was too stiff to fold back nicely, and it looked awful narrow hemmed.  The tie looked gigantic, and the overall size was okay, but the armholes were way too low and showed a lot of my bra.

Fixing a Standing Only Skirt

I like a slim skirt, and I like wrap skirts, and I like Connie Crawford patterns.  So, when I saw a pattern for a slim wrap skirt by Connie Crawford in the most recent Butterick release, I was out the door to buy it.  This is Butterick 6605.  It also has a top, which I have yet to make, but I wanted to review this skirt as soon as I made it, in case I can help anyone else avoid ending up with a Standing Only Skirt.

So,  what do I mean by a Standing Only Skirt?  Well, if you want to sit down in this skirt as originally designed, you will be giving quite the show!  I sewed the side seams together, overlapped it where the center fronts matched, and then sat down in it.  Oh boy- I would not want to show you a photo of that!  It pretty much was open all the way to the crotch.  But I will try to show you on the dress form.

So, here are the center fronts lining up.  Looks good right?
Now, imagine that you are sitting and the skirt fronts spread apart.  This is approximately where they would spread to:

There's just not enough overlap and underlap!  I almost gave up at this point, because I had no more fabric left to play with.  But, I did have the facing pieces, which were each about 4 inches wide.  So, I just let the facings become bands, and turned them under 5/8", instead of turning them under the entire width.  So, subtracting seam allowances and hem allowance, I ended up adding about 3 inches to each side. My print is busy, so it's hard to see, but here it is up close.  I did the same thing on the under layer, then overlapped them to each notch.

Then, this would make my already cut waistband too short for it to be a wrap, so I instead turned it into an elastic waistband, with the wrap permanently in place.   I was able to do that, because I don't have a lot of difference between my waist and hip measurements.  This fix wouldn't work for everyone.  If your hips are substantially larger than your waist, you'll want to find a different fix.

So, if you are making this pattern, and have just started, what I would recommend is first of all pinning the tissue to the clothes that you are wearing, and seeing what happens when you sit down.  Maybe this won't be an issue for all sizes, so it's best to see what it looks like for you.  For reference, I made the size Large, and I clearly selected the right size because the center fronts and sides were at the appropriate places. 

 If you are like me and find that the overlap and underlap are not working for you, try adding 3-4" to each front piece.  Then add the same amount to each side of the waistband.   If you are finding this post after you have already cut out the pattern and are wondering what to do- just sew on the facing as a band.  If you have enough fabric, you could cut two of each facing piece, so you are able to still have a facing, but the facing will face the band.   You'll need to cut some extra pieces to lengthen the waistband piece, or do like I did, and make it an elastic waist- but only if you can get it over your hips.
This was a muslin for me, as I am testing out some patterns for some fall skirts.  If you like this look, there are a few other patterns out there that may be worth trying out too.  I found Burda 6506 which looks close, but is probably not a true wrap, but it does have pockets. It's interesting that the Butterick number is 6605, just a transposition away.

I myself will definitely still be making this one again, as I like the fit now, and I can sit down without showing more than I want.  Iam even happy with the change to the elastic waistband, as I won't have to worry about ties loosening up, which from my experience, they always do.

And again, I want to emphasize, that I can't say that everyone will need to make this fix, but I wanted to give you a heads up, just in case!  Always better to know than to not know!    I'd love to hear from you if you make this skirt, and let me know how it worked for you and what size you made.

Happy Sewing!


What to Wear in Madagascar- Part 2

My daughter has been in the Peace Corps in Madagascar for the past 2 years and 3 months, and she came home to visit for a few weeks this month.  Before she left in 2016,  I made her some clothes to wear, and blogged about them here in this post.  Those clothes have been worn to shreds by now, and she is extending her stay by one year, so she wanted some new things to wear!  There's not much that I can do for her 12,000 miles away, but I can sew, and I'm happy to support her in any way that I can.

What she found when she got there is that really, anything goes clothing-wise in Madagascar.  They can wear pants, skirts, dresses- anything at all as long as it isn't too hot.  Where she is at, which is in the north,  never really gets cool- just hot weather, followed by really hot and humid weather, or the rainy season, as she calls it.  So, in figuring out what to make, it really was all about comfort- breathable and lightweight fabrics were the priority.

Within minutes of arriving home, she was raiding my closet.  She claims that it's just like shopping at a store.  Even though she's not my size, she has quite the nose for clothes, and the first things that she picked out was my Vogue 9305 tunics that I had just made.  How did she know that I had just made them?  So, I knew that I wanted to make her one of her own.  We waffled back and forth for weeks about what fabric to use, and finally decided on a floral rayon jersey.  She had also discovered a pair of linen pants, and decided that they were pretty awesome.  So I made her her own pair of pants from an avocado green linen from Fabric Mart's designer linen section.

For her version, I shortened it 3 inches and also cut it a size smaller than her measurements, since I was using a really stretchy knit.  It's really pretty on her, and hopefully it will hold up. Rayon knits are not the best for longevity, so I was a little hesitant on this one, but told her not to wash it very often.  I'm sure that the pants will hold up- that linen will wear forever.  I just used an basic Kwik Sew pant pattern with pockets for it.

Next was the Kielo Wrap Dress from Named patterns.  I had just made myself one, and of course, she wanted one for herself.  I can't say enough good things about this pattern- easy, chic, and fits great!  I made hers out of a hot pink linen knit.  Someday, I'll blog about my version.

Here she is in her supermodel pose:

And here she is more like in real life, goofy.

We got so many good pictures of this one.  We're at Allerton Park, which is a beautiful public garden in central Illinois.

Next on the list was a tank top that she wanted me to copy from another tank top that she had bought. I traced off the pieces, and did my best at recreating it.  I made her a couple of these- this one is from a polyester crepe like fabric that is really pretty.  See the bag next to her?  Those are made in Madagascar, and her sister had given me one when she visited last summer.  I love it.  It's my favorite to take grocery shopping.

I also made it out of a green quilting cotton.  I told her that it wouldn't drape as well, but it still looks cute, and green is a great color on her.

And the last thing that I had actually made for me a couple of year ago,  but since I wasn't wearing it, and she liked it, it ended up in her suitcase.  It is a pair of wide leg wrap pants from Vogue 9191.    I just had to shorten them to fit her.  She's wearing them with a black linen t-shirt, so that the pants can be the star of the show.

So, she's already back in Madagascar, and looking forward to another year there.  I will probably be visiting myself later this year, so there may be a What to Wear in Madagascar, Part 3!  Or maybe not- I have a feeling that my suitcase will be filled with books to deliver to her, as she reads a lot, and books in English are few and far between.  She's been in an isolated village with no internet, no TV.  We've been able to talk to her every couple of weeks, and have tried to keep her up to date on what's been going on in the US, but she really can't keep track of it all.  Can you imagine not hearing everyday about politics for the last two years?

Here she is showing off how she can carry things on her head, one of many skills she's learned while there, including cooking over an open fire, rice farming, speaking Malagasy, and many more!  If you'd like to learn more about her experience, you can check out her blog at Recklessly Freckling.

Happy Sewing!!