Cocoon Cardigan + Virginia Leggings

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of casual sewing with some french terry and jersey- here are a couple of my new pieces!  I made this cocoon cardigan using the tutorial on True Bias.  It’s easy to follow, and a really quick thing to sew up.  DSC_0156For the fabric I wanted something appropriately drapey and cozy, and I had this hemp/organic cotton jersey in my stash that was perfect.  It’s thicker than a typical jersey, and feels more like a lightweight french terry or sweater knit.  I first made it up according to the measurements in Kelli’s tutorial, and it was longer than I wanted.  I wanted to shorten it, but to keep the cocoon shape I had to take some off all of the way around the pattern piece.  I ended up taking off 2 inches all around (which subtracted 8″ from the length), and I think it’s the perfect size now.  DSC_0157I like the little gathered detail in the back- if your fabric is wide enough you can cut the back on the fold and just cut the curved section at the top;  then you won’t have a seam in the back.  In this case my fabric wasn’t wide enough so I do have a center back seam.DSC_0136I also made these leggings, using the Megan Nielsen Virginia Leggings pattern.  I made the XS and the fit was pretty good straight from the pattern, but I do think they run a bit big. I took 4″ off the length, and there’s still a bit extra (I’m 5’7″ for reference) but they are designed to have extra length to scrunch up at the bottom.  After wearing them around for a while I realized there was some extra room at the top also, both width and length.  For the next pair I took 1 1/2″ off the length at the waist, and also took the width in by an inch at the top of the thigh, tapering down to the knee.  These are still wearable, but I do want to take them apart at some point and make the same adjustments- though it’s always hard to get motivated to do stuff like that when there are new projects going on :) DSC_0089I think this is a good basic leggings pattern- they sew up so quick and the PDF is two pattern pieces (the main piece, plus a separate waistband).  Super easy to print out and tape together, and well worth the $12 to not have to draft my own :)  The fabric I used is a soy/organic cotton/spandex blend, and it is perfect for some nicely thick and warm leggings.  I don’t mind wearing leggings as pants as long as my back side is covered up, and they are thick enough to provide good coverage.   I can’t see myself buying leggings any time soon because I can sew these up in about an hour including cutting! DSC_0143DSC_0123

Giveaway winner!!

Hi guys!!  Thank you so very much for all of your feedback in response to my giveaway question, which was “What do you like to see on sewing blogs?”.  I enjoyed reading each and every comment, and it gave me lots to think about.

The lucky winner is Chantal, who said:

“I can’t believe you’ve made so many things in a year! You put my year to shame, ha ha! I like to see pretty pictures of finished garments, but I also like all the details about construction, what worked, what didn’t, pattern reviews, etc. I’m learning to sew entirely from reading blogs, so I find it very helpful. So, basically I like everything :)

I would choose the Portside Travel Set from Grainline. Happy bloggy birthday, and thanks for the giveaway!”

Chantal blogs at A Handmade Wardrobe, and she always makes the nicest things.  I appreciate her efforts to use environmentally friendly materials, and she just made shoes- you should check them out!  Congrats Chantal :)


Giveaway for you, happy Bloggy Birthday to me! [[Giveaway Closed]]

Hello friends!  Yesterday was my one year bloggy birthday, and I wanted to come celebrate and thank my lovely readers (you!) with a giveaway!  It has been one fun year of blogging, sharing my creations with this fantastic community of sewists worldwide.  57 blog posts, 80 sewn garments (plus a quilt!)…wow, I guess I spent a lot of time sewing this last year!

But let’s get to the giveaway!  I am a huge fan of indie patterns-  Grainline Studio, Megan Nielsen, Sewaholic, Deer & Doe, By Hand London (I really want to make Flora this summer!), Papercut Patterns, Made By Rae, April Rhodes…and the list goes on!  SO, the giveaway is simple- pick an indie pattern of your choosing, and I’ll have it sent to you via mail (or email if it’s a PDF pattern).  That’s it!  Let’s say any pattern $30 or less (US dollars), in case there are some crazy expensive ones out there I don’t know about ;)

To enter, just leave a comment on this post telling me what you like to see on sewing blogs- very detailed posts showing construction, fit details, finishing…or just pretty pictures and less talk?  I have to be honest, I don’t always put a ton of thought into my posts- it’s more like “I have 30 minutes while the kids take a bath, let’s get this post up!”  But I would like to be a bit more mindful in the future, so let me know what you would like to see more or less of!  And of course tell me what pattern you want, yay!! (BTW, have you seen the new collection of printed patterns from Republique Du Chiffon??  Amazing.)

The giveaway will be open until Thursday, April 10th at 10pm PDT, and I will announce the winner here on Friday April 11th.  Open to everyone worldwide, good luck!

************************GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*********************

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress

Of course you’ve seen the newest pattern from Tilly and the Buttons- Coco!!  I have been eagerly anticipating this pattern after seeing earlier versions of it on her blog.  And I was so happy to see the funnel neck variation when the pattern came out!  I downloaded and printed it immediately and made one up soon after. DSC_0292 I had been wanting to copy this Boden top for ages, and this pattern is perfect!  I also love Boden’s Breton tops, so I’ll happily be copying them with this pattern too (I just need to find the perfect striped knit!)

From Tilly’s site:  “Simple to sew, Coco is easy fitting, with no zips, buttons or other fiddly bits. The perfect introduction to sewing knit fabrics on a regular sewing machine, the user-friendly instructions guide you through with a jargon buster, clearly labelled pattern pieces, and photos of each step.  Designed for low-stretch knit fabrics, this classic style features a boat neckline, choice of top or dress lengths, three quarter length or long sleeves, with side splits at the hips on the top version. Make it your own with optional sixties funnel roll neck, rolled cuffs and patch pockets.”

I really wanted the printed version which looks so cool, but I needed the pattern right away so sadly I had to go with the PDF version.  But it was super easy to put together as far as PDF patterns go, no complaints there at all.DSC_0225For this dress I used a medium weight soy/organic cotton french terry fabric.  (I got it locally at Bolt but you can buy it here online).  We were heading to Rochester, NY to attend a military ceremony for my brother-in-law and the forecast was for 10 degree (fahrenheit) weather…I always have a hard time figuring out how to dress up in cold weather, but this dress was perfect!  I actually made it with long sleeves first, and then shortened them to 3/4 length with cuffs after we got back to warmer weather.DSC_0226Coco is designed to be an easy fit, and I am happy with how this dress looks but I do think maybe I could go down a size on the next one.  As far as construction- the directions walk you through how to sew it on a regular machine, but for mine I changed the seam allowances to 3/8″ and sewed it all on my serger.  It came together super quick, I easily sewed it up in one evening.  I think this pattern has so many cute variations that it is definitely more than just another t-shirt pattern, and I will be making lots more!DSC_0253

Tilly is having a Coco party on Friday, March 21st so if you have sewn a Coco get some pics before Friday and join in the fun!  Here’s my attempt at a party pic…DSC_0284Haha!  Can’t wait to see all of your Coco dresses and tops!

A Gaptastic Cowl

This may be the last knitting project for a while as it seems spring has sprung around here!  Sunshine, flowers, and warmer temps have me itching to finish up my winter projects and move on to more spring and summer clothes.  DSC_0125

After seeing Kelli’s Gaptastic Cowls (a free pattern, found here!) I wanted to make one for myself- they looked warm, cozy and stylish.  And knit in a bulky weight yarn, it is a pretty fast project.  The yarn I used is from Sunrise Fiber Co. which is hand dyed here in Oregon.  The color is called Peppermint Pattie.  This yarn is called Snuggle Bulky and they aren’t kidding- it is soooooo soft and snuggly!  I don’t know enough about yarn to know why some wool is soft and some is not, but this stuff is amazing.  It comes in some very cool neon colorways too, I’d like to get more of their yarn as it was such a pleasure to knit with!DSC_0173I bought the yarn at my favorite yarn store, Happy Knits!  They have a great selection of super yummy yarn, and they have a play room that will keep my littles entertained while I shop, which is so amazing and appreciated by me.  It is rare that I have a chance to shop on my own, and most yarn stores I have been in are NOT kid friendly…who wouldn’t want to touch all that pretty yarn?  The colors!! The textures!  But obviously letting your kids fondle the yarn is frowned upon ;)  You can purchase from them online too!DSC_0165As I started knitting this I noticed that in spots there was a cool chevron/zigzag pattern happening.  I was about halfway through when I realized by playing with the tension as I was knitting I could make these patterns happen regularly…SO, I ripped it back almost to the start, and tried to keep that pattern going.  I am so pleased with how it turned out!  You can read more about some amazing “planned pooling” of colors here.  DSC_0143 (1)

It has gotten a little too warm to wear this lately, but I know when the cold weather comes back in fall and winter this will be a scarf that I reach for regularly!

I just got back into knitting this winter, and now that it’s warming up I am thinking of ways to keep my skills fresh even though I don’t feel that motivated to make hats/mittens/scarves…my plan right now is to always have a smaller knitting project that I can work on from time to time (right now I have some Rathtrevor mitts in progress).  And after a few more small projects I may try my hand at a cardigan of some sort- I’ve never knitted a sweater before but it seems like if I pick something loose where I don’t have to worry too much about fit it should be doable.  If you are a knitter, do you knit year round?  Or is it more of a winter thing for you?  If you knit year round is it seasonally appropriate or do you always knit winter stuff?  Just curious :)

Gerard Part II: The Deets

For those who are interested, I thought I would share where I got all of my supplies for my Gerard coat.  I am in no way affiliated with any of the companies or products, just giving recommendations based on what I found while searching around for myself :)  I’ll also share some of the on line resources that helped me with the construction.  All of the prep took a lot longer than the actual making of the coat, so I hope this helps a little.  Let’s start with the fabric!DSC_0005Wool coating- I debated which side to use as I really liked the back as much as the front!

I chose this medium weight wool blend with a large herringbone weave.  It is super soft and has lots of drape- a little too much, which is why I decided to underline it.  I’m not sure exactly what the blend is, but it is a little furry.  I would think you want to go with something 100% wool or at least all natural fiber, as a poly blend is not going to press as nicely- something you need to make the collar and lapels look good.  I got this at a local store (Mill End) where they have a large selection of wool, it was $25 a yard but they let me use a Joann’s coupon for 20% off, score! On line, Mood Fabrics has  lot of nice wool at reasonable prices- for something more spendy have a look at Britex.  I would definitely recommend ordering swatches first if you are going the on line route, they are usually only $1.00 each and could save you spending a bunch of money on fabric you don’t like.  I pre-shrunk the wool using this method, which basically involves throwing the fabric in your dryer with a couple wet towels so it will steam up and shrink the fabric a bit.  I measured before and after and there was a fair amount of shrinkage!

I mentioned that I added an underling, I felt like the fabric was perhaps a little too drapey and wanted to add a bit of body.  I think it added some warmth to the coat as well.  I used some black silk organza, very reasonably priced at $5.15 a yard from Dharma Trading Company.  I machine basted it to all of the main fabric pieces, with the exception of the pieces that would be interfaced.  DSC_0010Silk organza

For the lining I originally ordered some stripey rayon/acetate lining fabric, but eventually decided to go with a black silk charmeuse.  I am so glad I did!!  It is amazingly soft and feels so luxurious.  Definitely worth the extra cost.  I got mine from Dharma Trading Company for $13.25 a yard, and the quality is very nice!  They only have black and white, but it’s definitely a lower price than I found anywhere else.  I recently ordered more, some black and white, to make a few slips and camisoles.  The white is actually a nice soft ivory color, and not a harsh bright white.  I am going to experiment with dying some of it with tea to hopefully get a nice beige color for a slip.DSC_0013Silk charmeuse

Interfacing!  A new concept for me- I usually avoid interfacing, at least the fusible kind.  I just don’t like it!  I usually use a bit of self fabric, muslin, or voile (depending on the weight needed) where interfacing is called for, and machine baste it to the main fabric.  But I felt like I probably needed the real stuff for this jacket, and went on a search for some good quality interfacing.  The name that kept popping up was Fashion Sewing Supply, so I decided to try their  Pro-Weft Supreme medium interfacing, and their Pro-Weft Supreme light interfacing.  They are $11.79 (66 inches wide) and $7.75 (60 inches wide) a yard, but since they are wide you get a lot of interfacing for that price.  And they feel amazing!  They feel like fabric, not the crazy stiff, rough interfacing I was used to seeing at the store.  They have a swatch set of all of their interfacing for $13, I may get it to try out some of the other weights.  I tested both weights on some scraps of my coat fabric, and found that I liked the feel and weight of the light interfacing the best.  I wanted to maintain a casual, relaxed feel to the coat so I didn’t want anything to feel too heavy or stiff.  I only interfaced the parts that were recommended in the pattern- the facings, the collar, and the bottoms of the sleeves.DSC_0008Two weights of interfacing

I decided to do a hand sewn, corded buttonhole.  I think a bound buttonhole would be nice also!  I ordered Gutermann silk buttonhole twist and buttonhole gimp from Bay Tailor Supply.  They were super nice and carry all sorts of thread and other tailoring supplies.DSC_0016Buttonhole gimp and buttonhole twist

When it came to the actual construction of the coat, I needed help!  Looking at the pattern instructions as a whole was pretty intimidating, but like anything when you break it down into the individual steps it’s not so bad.  The first thing I did was watch this video.  Yeah.  It’s over an hour long but you get to watch someone sew a lined jacket, and it just gave me a bit of understanding of how it would all come together.  Then, the printing and tracing of the pattern which was a bit of work in itself!  The pieces didn’t come together perfectly in spots- I did the best I could and hoped it would work out OK (it did!).  There are lots of pattern pieces!  18 actually…DSC_0029The pattern pieces are in french, so as I traced them I wrote in the english translation and checked it off my list to make sure I had all of the pieces.  Then I added 1 cm seam allowances, as they are not included in the pattern.   Then I cut cut cut…main fabric, lining, underlining, and interfacing.  Phew!

I read through the pattern instructions as I went and generally tried to follow them as written, but when I needed more detail I went to the RTW Tailoring Sew Along on Pattern Scissors Cloth- a blog that is not active anymore but holy wow, there is a wealth of good information over there!  I want to print out the whole thing because I am afraid it will disappear, ha.

This is a well drafted pattern and everything came together very nicely.  I had some difficulty in a few spots where my notches disappeared- the fabric frayed a bit and I just couldn’t find them!  Next time I will find a different way to mark them, maybe with a bit of contrasting thread.  When I was putting the lining together there were a few places that had extra ease- in those spots I just made a little pleat and hoped I was doing the right thing.  When it came time to sew the lining in I used Jen’s tutorial over at Grainline on how to bag a jacket lining. The best, as usual.  Thanks Jen!

The pattern shows two buttons;  I opted for one because I like how it looks, and I didn’t relish the thought of trying to get two hand sewn buttonholes to match up exactly ;)  I watched this video, it is amazing how fast he sews that perfect buttonhole!  I glanced through a few other tutorials as well (this one is good, I printed these instructions out to use on the plane).  I loved this awesome article about hand worked buttonholes in tailored suits, you have to check it out for the pictures if nothing else!  I used a 1 inch button- I think 1 to 1 1/8 inch is a good size for this coat.

Overall I would say that this coat was much easier to sew than it would seem just by glancing through the pattern and instructions.  There are so many resources to be found on line, and I am sure there are many books out there on the subject as well.  Not to mention, if you have sewn a tailored jacket before it would all make a lot more sense.

I hope that covers most of it!  Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments if you want- I’m sure I’ve left something out.  And keep in mind that I am far from being an expert on the subject- I’m just sharing what worked for me.  There may be better materials and methods out there!


Republique du Chiffon Gerard Coat (finally!!)

When I saw Gerard, it was love at first sight.  I knew I had to have him in my life!  DSC_0040If you haven’t seen them yet, Republique du Chiffon is a French pattern company that is putting out some really amazing designs.  Most of the patterns are in French, but a few are translated into English, including this lovely coat- Gerard.  (Although, at least with Gerard, the instructions are in English but all of the diagrams and pattern pieces are still in French.  Google translate is your friend ;) )  DSC_0077I spent a lot of time pondering this coat…what fabric to use, what kind of interfacing, which size, lining, hand sewn buttonhole?  Bound buttonhole?  Underlining?  And so on…DSC_0057Once I got all of my supplies together I needed some help with the construction.  I had never sewn a tailored jacket before, and had no clue as to how it would all come together!  The instructions in the pattern would be sufficient for anyone with prior experience, but for me I definitely needed more.  I watched a video, and read through a few tutorials on line before I got started.  In an effort to keep this post of reasonable length I will have another post tomorrow detailing all of the supplies I used, and links to all of the on line resources.DSC_0038This turned out to be more of a coat than a jacket, it is really warm!  The outer fabric is a mystery wool blend, which I underlined with silk organza.  The lining is silk charmeuse (heavenly!!). We took a trip to Rochester, NY last weekend and it was freeeeezing cold, and this was the only coat I brought.  Probably not the smartest decision as it was untested but it kept me reasonably warm even in 10 degree weather :) DSC_0110When we left for the trip I hadn’t sewn the buttonhole or button yet, and so there I was in a middle seat on the airplane, taking care of my 3 year old and trying not to stab the random guy next to me as I sewed my first ever corded buttonhole.  It will probably come as no surprise when I tell you I had to redo that buttonhole ;)  It turned out OK the second time, but I do think it is a smidge too close to the edge.DSC_0103DSC_0106I love the button, I was prepared to find a very nice expensive button for this jacket but the one I ended up liking the best cost less than 2 dollars.DSC_0096The patch pockets are perfect for keeping hands warm, and are also lined in silk charmeuse which feels so lovely when I put my hands in there.   The pattern offers no guidance as far as pocket or button placement…it would have been nice to have some help there, especially with the pockets.  I am happy with where they ended up but I did stress about it a bit as it is done right at the beginning before the rest is sewn up.  DSC_0085I think the fit turned out to be the perfect amount of oversized slouchiness.  I originally traced out a small, but when I made my muslin it was much more fitted than I was looking for.  So I went up to a medium and I am really happy with the fit.  The only change I made was to lengthen the sleeves by 1/2″.DSC_0079For me, this pattern was a good choice for my first tailored jacket.  There’s not much to do with the fit as it is so loose, and there’s really not much involved tailoring either.  A bit of fusible interfacing, nothing going on in the shoulders such as shoulder pads.  The bottom of the coat is finished with a facing instead of just folding up the hem, and it makes a nice sturdy edge.  How the collar and lapels come together has always been a mystery to me but in reality wasn’t that hard to sew.
DSC_0115DSC_0117This may be my favorite thing I have ever made!  At least for now, I tend to say that a lot ;)  I definitely want to make another one that is more lightweight for spring/fall weather, but this one will get lots of wear on those cold days.  If you are thinking of making Gerard, come back tomorrow for a detailed post about all of the supplies and on line help that made this jacket possible!

Some Knitty Bits…

Well I stumbled across these photos tonight on my desktop so I thought I would toss them your way…a bit more knitting :)  Now I am in no position to offer any knitting expertise or advice, so I’ll just share and move on…DSC_0622First up is the “Jane” hat from Jane Richmond.  Love love love this pattern.  Easy, fun to knit and no cable needle required.  I love the double brim, it’s extra squishy and warm.  I used Tosh Vintage in Candlewick, and I adore the color.  It goes with everything :) DSC_0634I also made some fingerless mitts, in a very lush and soft wool/silk/cashmere blend yarn (Pashmina, also from Madelinetosh).  It’s the same yarn I used for my Honey Cowl.DSC_0645The pattern is Loch Lomond by Kendra Hope.  Also a great, easy to follow pattern.  And my first cables!  It took a while (and lots of dropped stitches!) to get the hang of it but now I want to try more cables.  I love them but I have to say it was a struggle to get motivated to knit the second mitt!  I finished the first one and the last thing I wanted to do was make another just like it.  Maybe I should stick to knitting single items lest I end up with a bunch of single mitts and socks ;) DSC_0652DSC_0692DSC_0671I just photographed some projects today, so hopefully I will have them up here on the blog soon!  I am trying to work my way towards some spring-like projects but I have been having so much fun with winter sewing/knitting it may take me a bit to transition :)

Made By Rae Josephine Tunic

A while back I was lucky to test the newest pattern from Made By Rae, Josephine!  I had loved her from afar and was happy to make my own version, seen here in black Andover chambray (I got mine here, but it is widely available.)
DSC_0038This pattern comes in a range of six women’s sizes, from XS through XXL, with two bodice pieces included for each size: one has an A/B cup bust dart, and the other has a C/D cup bust dart.   How cool is that??  No need for a full (or small) bust adjustment, just pick the one that matches up best with your bra cup size.  I wish more designers offered this feature.  I often find myself needing (but not always doing) a small bust adjustment.

There are also several different views- tunic or blouse length, sleeveless, a center front slit and side vents, elastic casing in the back for a more fitted look…you’ll just have to go take a look, so many options!DSC_0048Rae has a knack for designing accessible, easy to sew clothes that still look great.  They are perfect patterns if you are just starting out sewing for yourself, because the instructions are always very detailed and clear, and they don’t include any really tricky techniques.  I like sewing more complicated garments sometimes, but I find that I wear this and another MBR dress  (Ruby) a lot- especially during the winter because I like to layer them with sweaters, tights and boots.
DSC_0079I would love to make a sleeveless version in a lightweight fabric for spring, or maybe a plaid version?  I have a bit of a plaid hoarding problem so it would be a good way to bust some of the stash :)

Sleeveless Lace Hemlock Tee

Surprise!  I made another lace tee…I have a bit of an addiction to lace t-shirts, and why not??They are easy to make, easy to wear, and they make my comfy-running-around-after-the-kids outfits feel a little less “momish”.  That’s how I feel anyway ;)   This time I used the (free!) Hemlock Tee pattern from the amazingly talented Jen of Grainline Studio.DSC_0007This shirt came together so fast- I would say about 30 minutes from cutting to completion! Sometimes you just need a quick fix, you know?  The lace fabric came from Mood, and has been  in my stash for a while.  I used less than a yard of fabric for this top :)  It is not a stretch fabric, but still works well because this pattern has a lot of ease.DSC_0017For the construction-  I sewed the front and back pieces together at the shoulders, then finished the raw edges along the sides of the shirt with my serger.  Then I just sewed up the sides to the sleeve markings.  I folded the edge in around the armhole 1/4″ and sewed it down.  Same thing for the neckline- I serged the raw edge, folded it under and sewed it down.   I used the scalloped edges for the bottom so there was no need for hemming.DSC_0009Easy as can be, and I have already worn it a bunch.  I can see myself whipping up some more sleeveless Hemlocks as we make our way towards spring.  I’ve been dragging my heels a bit on my Gerard coat, but I can feel my motivation coming back slowly….I am imagining jeans, a slouchy sleeveless Hemlock with my Gerard coat, and it feels like an outfit I could live in.DSC_0052