Saturday, October 29, 2016

Utility Chic, Minoru #2

I've been in need of a fall jacket for a while. Something with a little weight for our crisp fall days but lighter than a winter coat. It definitely doesn't rain every day here so water resistance and a hood weren't really a concern, It just had to go with everything. I've had been wanting a utility type jacket with lots of pockets but with a little bit of a feminine touch to it. I didn't want a drawstring but I did want a lined jacket so I decided against the new Kelly anorak (which I think I will make as a light rain coat in the future). I love the Minoru jacket from Sewaholic and I made it once already with water resistant material (which is definitely NOT resistant in heavy rain) just about a year ago. I love that jacket but it has always been a little tight and the cotton lining makes it hard to slip on, and incidentally that black lining bleeds onto your clothes when it gets soaked... So since I had the pattern and like the gathered details of the neck and cuffs, I decided to make another modified Minoru with some heavy cotton twill (color stone), lined with a beautiful teal Benberg rayon. Both from

A google search will show that there are lots of great Minoru's out there, a few of them in the military style. For mine I made the following changes:

  • Narrowed the plackets by 1/2" and added that to the fronts of the jacket. 
  • Forgot to add the 1/2" to the collar piece but somehow it still worked. I don't know, I must have been able to stretch the edge enough. I'm not asking questions
  • Added storm flaps with snaps (Dritz from Joann). I did the math but they don't quite cover each other but the way I positioned the snaps force them to cover each other when closed, there is enough give and flexibility there that it works. Again, got a little lucky on that one too.
  • Added belt loops and a belt for waist definition. my belt is short because that is all the fabric I had left. I just didn't think about all the extra fabric I would need with my mods when ordering.
  • Added upper pockets taken from my Granville shirt. The flap is twill on the outside and rayon on the inside, this helped reduce bulk.
  • My favorite part, added lined patch pockets with a flap that open on the top, but are attached only on three of the four sides so I can slide my hands in behind the lining! My sister has a jacket like this and I knew when I saw it I had to copy that. I think that night was the start of this Minoru adventure. I really like the look of flap pockets but I find them uncomfortable to put my hands in while walking around. Isn't that the best part of sewing, when you get to have the best of both worlds? These are enlarged back pockets from my Port trousers. I wanted a pleated pocket but again, I was short on fabric. It night have been to bulky to sew on anyway. The flap is a little more than half a port pocket.

I love this jacket, so very much. I thought it would go faster than my first version since I was omitting the hood and elastic but the pockets, belt, and belt loops made up for that. It took a few marathon sewing sessions and several broken needles but the end result is exactly what I wanted. The twill is pretty heavy so I was not able to top stitch the top of the collar, I just couldn't get the placket and storm flaps under my presser foot and I didn't want the top stitching to end an inch away from the seam. It's a bit stiff at first and the twill was a huge pain to gather, but it pressed really well and I think it will break in nicely over time. The rayon actually wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be to work with. It's slippery and frayed a lot but it went smoothly. I sewed the seams and then I finished them on my serger for extra strength. The snaps I hammered in. This flattened them a bit but it doesn't bother me enough to have gone out and bought a special tool. I like the hammered look, more utility chic right?

The hanging loop is leftover bias binding I made for a Granville shirt, the twill would have been way too thick.

Let's talk pockets. This caused me hours of planning as making these mods is not second nature to me, I like to be instructed. If it helps, I'll describe how I muddled through it. The twill is think, so I cut one pocket piece out of twill and one out of rayon, the rayon piece being a little taller than the outer pocket piece. I then hemmed both pocket pieces at the top and sewed both together. Turn right side out and press. Then I top stitched two rows around three sides (not the top). Now I constructed the jacket shell and pinned the pockets where I wanted them. I got the placement I wanted this way, but it was a heavy beast to wrangle at that point. I will say this, wonder tape is amazing. If you do this just buy some. I taped the pocket where I wanted it along the bottom and side closest to the zipper. At the top of the pocket I taped the lining down. Now to stitch it on I stitched over my original top stitching along the zipper side, bottom, and just up to the top of the slant on the outer side. I then started stitching again at the hemline at the top of the pocket, mine was 1/2" from the top, up to the top and then across the lining only, remember the lining piece extends a little above outer pocket piece. The outer side should be left open enough to slip a hand behind the lining. Once the flap is added it should cover most of the lining so you won't see the stitching. Now you have a double pocket!

I've said a lot in this post, I really love this jacket. I find the things I love the most make it to the blog the fastest. Would I make it again? well, I've made it twice so far so never say never. I still dream of a true winter coat version with thinsulate, a waterproof shell, and reflective piping. Maybe someday I'll get to that, next October?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Simplicity 8229

I picked up Simplicity 8229 during a Joann sale thinking I'd give bra making one more shot. This looked like a simple pattern that would be easier to fit than the Marlborough. I was pretty sure of my size but this time I learned from my mistakes and cut a test cup from some muslin. I then very scientifically held it up to myself and pinched out a small wedge at the top of the cup, tapering down to nothing at the apex. The fit is spot on now, maybe the band is a touch tight but I have been wearing this a lot and it's not really bothering me. I suspect it will stretch out a bit over time too.

I used an underwire bra kit from Tailor Made Shop. The lace is so pretty, even prettier in person. I have been really happy with these kits. The bow is a random bit of black ribbon. I thought it would be too big but I actually think it works. the underwires are from Blackbird fabrics. Yeah I had some black thread in my bobbin when I sewed the hook and eyes on, oops. I was not ripping that out.

The only thing I did different from the instructions is sew everything with concealed seams. There is a video that accompanies this pattern that shows you how to do that. But I do wish it had just been in the instructions, same with the Marlborough. Before I started reading sewing blogs stuff like this wouldn't have occurred to me on my first go. I also heavily glue basted this thing before stitching which is probably another reason it was so much easier than my first go round with bras. I have learned a lot this year about which supplies make a huge difference in frustration.

I don't have too much to say about this one, I think it's a terrific pattern and my next one will be a foam version. I think this will become my TNT pattern and I probably will just keep making it over and over again. It fits so much better than anything I can buy at the store.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Port Trousers

It's rare I grab a pattern the instant it's released but I saw the Port Trouser pattern come out, realized I really needed a pair of pants that fit before the weather got too cool, and knew I had fabric in my stash from years go that would be perfect. So I downloaded and printed the pdf right away and set to cutting.

This was my first Pauline Alice pattern and I have nothing but good things to say. I had no head scratching moments and the fit was pretty good right out of the envelope so to speak. I didn't shorten the pattern, I'm 5'4 and the length is perfect when I want to wear them uncuffed. For my next pairs, because there will be more, I might shorted the pairs I always intend to wear cuffed for a little more ankle action.

I did make a few changes to ensure I had a wearable garment on the first try. I added a seam to the center back waist band. I really like doing this, I had actually just made a pair of Thurlow trousers (post to come soon I hope) and this method of construction allows for basting the pants together and getting just the right fit. I covered the seam with a belt loop so it's not noticeable at all. I'll probably do this all the time I make this pattern, it will also make the pants easier to alter as my weight fluctuates. The last minor change I made was to switch which site the button was on, just a matter of personal preference.

The lining fabric is a quilting cotton I got from the remnant bin in Joann. I don't remember the name but the selvage tells me it was made in the USA. The outer fabric I have had for so many years I can't even remember when I bought it. I know I purchased it from Denver Fabrics intending for it to be a shirt dress but it was way too stiff. So it sat waiting for the perfect pattern to come around. I think it works really well for these pants. I made them a few weeks ago and I wear them at least a couple of times a week. I love the style and the slightly relaxed fit. When I first sewed them up and snapped these pictures they were a bit snug and I was pretty worried. But I really needed pants so I wore them and after a short while they relaxed just enough to be really comfortable. A good thing to be aware of, it's true you really need to wear a garment for a while to get an accurate idea of the fit. I had to scoop the back seam a little which seems to be a normal adjustment for me, but that I fixed when baste fitting.

I highly recommend this pattern. They come together quicky and I think they are pretty stylish. I've gotten a few compliments already. I can't wait to add a navy pair and maybe a white pair next summer.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Burda Bat Sleeve Dress 05/2016 #115B

I don't know what it is about this dress. It's basically just a sack but I love it. The moment I saw it in my email I wanted to make it so I used an upcoming wedding in sunny California as an excuse to make it. Knit dresses travel the best right?

This was my first Burda pattern and the slim instructions are no joke. Thankfully for this pattern there is just a front, back, and a neckband so you really can't go wrong. I used a a polyester knit from Joann that is slinky and drapes a lot. I think that is the key to this pattern, there isn't much shape so fabric with drape keeps it slim. That and a good belt. I actually didn't mind how this looked unbelted but I do prefer the cinched in look. My husband likes this one a lot but does prefer the belt.

The neckline is a bit large but you know, the dress stayed in place all day. I did serge some stay tape into the neckline when I attached the neckband. Next time I might raise it and the armholes a little bit. They are a little wide and low but if you have a beige undergarments and aren't swinging you arms above your head I doubt anyone would notice.

Overall this is a win and I'm sure it will get lots of wear. It's super comfortable, doesn't wrinkle, and I love the drapy arms. I want to make the shirt version as well.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Sparkly Arielle

This is one of those projects that goes from idea to reality in the blink of an eye. I was stopping in to Joann Fabrics on the way home from work this week to pick up some topstitching thread when I spotted this sparkly butterfly denim. It's in no way practical but I immediately grabbed it and 1 yard came home with me. I knew immediately it was going to be an Arielle skirt, a pattern I have wanted to make since it came out. It was cut out yesterday and stitched up and photographed today. I just couldn't wait to see how it looked.

 I made a straight 3 based on my measurements. I have made two other Tilly and the Buttons patterns so far and I felt pretty good that this would fit so I dove right in. I cut the long version and then took off three inches during hemming to get the length I wanted. That is it! I think the fit is spot on and I am totally smitten with the skirt. It's more quirky than I typically wear and who knows how long it will last, but sometimes you need to sew something fun.

I did not line the skirt since the denim was fairly substantial and I finished the facing with bias tape. The seams are serged because I didn't think I had enough tape to bind them all. Buttons are from the stash.

Not much else to say about this, it was a quick, easy, fun make.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

My Marlboroughs

I started to venture into lingerie making towards the end of last year. I debated for a long time which pattern to start with and ended up choosing the marlborough bra from orange lingerie. I liked the style the most and it seemed most like something I would wear. So armed with a kit from Blackbird Fabrics I set off on my merry way. Behold the prettiest thing I had ever made.

Of course when I put it on it was way too small, a poor size choice on my part. I was heartbroken but decided to try again with another kit and new underwires. For this one I left the lovely scalloped edge on the band and I love it. It just feels so fancy. I have a little excess fabric but I think it's my poor sewing on this one. I need to stretch the underarm elastic a bit more and be more careful when assembling the cups. But it fits and I think it's super pretty even if it doesn't photograph as well.

That kit is also a Blackbird Fabrics kit, I love that shop, such amazing taste and the blog posts that talk about the kits are really helpful. I have some more supplies I've been sourcing (that is seriously the hardest part) and I think I have enough to make another peach Marlborough if I salvage the findings from the small one. Expect more in the near future... :)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Vogue 9157

Just in time for our 50 degree week I put the finishing touches on my new coat, V9157. It's way too warm to wear it now but I'm pretty sure things will cool off enough to wear it this season soon.

I made a straight 14 with no adjustments. The outer fabric is a wool nylon blend in a basket weave camel color that came from Fashion Fabrics. I have had mixed success with the site but this fabric is a winner. The slight brushed and checked look it really nice.  

The fabric was super drapey, I'm actually planning a skirt with the leftovers. The lining is Kasha satin and each lining piece is interline with Thinsulate, both from Vogue fabrics. The thinsulate might have been a mistake, it's really warm and I think the coat makes me look a bit puffy, but we'll see if it relaxes a bit. I did want the coat to have some structure. Since the coat was so puffy already I left off the shoulder pads, I didn't think more bulk would help.

The only change I made to the pattern was to try and sew the tab right onto the front piece. I just couldn't see carrying a separate tab piece around, seems really strange. It sort of worked... the collar is a bit wonky but I can deal. The back views show the collar, it is lined with sew in interfacing but it won't stand right. I may try to steam it again into place but I fear it just isn't stiff enough.

Things I love about this coat:

  • The Fabric, I think it's a nice and classic looking
  • The seam lines. Love the raglan and pocket lines.
  • The belt and collar
  • The lining is nice and soft and the coat is really warm
Things I don't love:

  • I've never been a fan of patch pockets for comfort of use but the look got me on this one, I had to use them rather than adding in-seam pockets which I did cut
  • The thinsulate, I think it just added too much bulk. I may feel differently the first time I wear it in freezing weather.
  • How heavy and awkward this was to sew. It was quite the workout and Bernie did not enojoy sewing the buttons or button holes.
Overall I am happy I made this. I made a coat! I'm pleased with that fact for now and perhaps some day when I find the perfect boiled wool I will make another coat. I've had a pea coat pattern in my stash for some time and now that I have learned some things with this coat I'm sure the next will be much smoother.