Turtle Power! My summer blockbuster

Simplicity Pattern Pattern: Simplicity 1100

Even though I am writing this post the beginning of autumn, I actually did finish this project in the height of summer.  My summer sewing productivity was a bust. As I noticed the days getting shorter, I realized I did not have enough time to make the shorts I wanted in the time I would be able to enjoy them.  I needed a quick win, and this bathing suit cover up was just the thing.  I bought this pink turtle-print rayon a while back with the intention of making a bathing suit cover up.  Rayon is just such a cool, lightweight fabric and the turtles gave it a slightly tropical look.  The problem was finding the right pattern – one that was simple enough to sew quickly but also stylish enough to be unique.

Some simple google searches did not help me, so I went onto a site I have been an inactive member on called http://sewing.patternreview.com/.  I was able to find and purchase the perfect pattern – it was a simple dress-like cover-up that is sewn in two pieces, with no buttons or notions.  You simply tie it around the neck, Continue reading “Turtle Power! My summer blockbuster”

Phone in arm band pocket

The running band: Trying to get back to it

Pattern: Fehr Trade Running Armband Pocket (free pattern!)Fehr Trade Running Arm Band pattern

It’s no surprise that I haven’t been sewing lately.  Summer is in full force, I just started a new job where my commute is longer and I’ve been taking some online courses to brush up on my skills – you know all the usual.  Oh and I’ve been running more.  After the success of my last half marathon in May, I decided to sign up for another one in October…and then another one later in October.  I also have some smaller races and relay races coming up that I’m trying to stay prepared for.  I’ve been running as long as I’ve been sewing, but it seemed that most of my energy that I reserved for sewing has transferred to running and running related activities.  I started track workouts with my running club once a week.  I’m also a bit more consistent with my long runs on the weekends.  I have been working a bit harder at it and I think I’m finally starting to show some improvement.

But I miss sewing. Every time I look over at my machines Continue reading “The running band: Trying to get back to it”

Tie Bow close up

The networking blouse: or how to succeed in business by really really trying!

Pattern: Simplicity 1779 (view c)Simplicity 1779

They say that job searching is all about the networking.  Let me tell you from a diagnosed introvert, networking really sucks.  You really have to put yourself out there, totally out of your comfort zone and start conversations with complete strangers.  You have no idea if they want to talk to you or not.  Sometimes these conversations go well, sometimes they feel as painful as falling down a flight of stairs.  Making that perfect connection that furthers your career can feel like a needle in a haystack.  It’s also extremely exhausting, being “on” all the time.  When I come home after a few hours of networking, I feel almost as if I ran a marathon.  But it is important – applying for open jobs the old fashion way definitely doesn’t get the maximum result.  And getting a job can be more “who you know” than “what you know” in general.

I feel it helps to have some sort of ice breaker prepared.  Which is why last week, Continue reading “The networking blouse: or how to succeed in business by really really trying!”

crossing the finish line

Run for it! A reflection on running as I sew with spandex

Pattern: Fehr Trade Duathlon Shorts (3-quarter length)Fehr Trade Duathlon Shorts pattern

Skills acquired:

  • PDF patterns

I’ve never considered myself a runner.  When I was in middle school, we were forced to run a mile and a half in gym class and it was always a day I dreaded.  The gym teacher made fun of the way I swung my arms when I ran.  “You look like this,” she said, while she made some exaggerated movements.  She called me a retard.  She said I was un-athletic.  This would turn anyone off from running.

I didn’t really pick up running, except for the odd jog around the neighborhood, until I started having some real life problems.  Lack of control in my life situations created major anxiety.  I was not myself, I was just a walking bundle of nerves and hurt feelings.  I wasn’t sleeping properly and so I slowly introduced a running routine to “tire me out” during the day.  It also relieved some of those anxious feelings:

Oh you have to move – run 5 miles to feel better
Grad school is getting to you – see if you can make it to 6 miles
You didn’t get that job – run 3 miles faster than you have before

Everything would play through my head during these runs, and I started to add more Continue reading “Run for it! A reflection on running as I sew with spandex”

Bicycle pants

An update on loungewear

Pattern: Kwik Sew 3793

We interrupt this blog to bring you the picture I was hoping to include on my previous entry about lounge-wear.  Back when I was on my pajama pant kick, I made my guy some nice ones out of bicycle flannel.  I used this kwik sew pattern because it includes a fly, but I also added pockets using an online tutorial.  There is a little bit about the pocket install on my other blog post.

Pockets on pj pants

I wanted to share the final result, although these pictures are only from the waist down Continue reading “An update on loungewear”

See my vest…in textured fleece

Kwik Sew 3813Pattern: Kwik Sew K3813

Some key takeaways:

  • Wait to buy your separating zipper until you confirm the final length
  • Make sure your fabric works for the arm binding, if not you can use spandex or knit

Just as spring made its way in New England, so did the cold weather.  For a winter which saw 70 degree temperatures on Christmas Eve and only 2 snow storms, this spring sure is cold!  We had more snow storms in April than in March, and now that it is May, I can’t walk around my house without a sweatshirt.  Or a fleece….which brings me to….

I decided to make a fleece vest!  I started this a bit on the late side – as in after winter was technically over.  Glad this cold weather started up, or I would have felt completely foolish!

This was a pretty ambitious project.  I have never made anything like this before, and half-way through making the vest, I was worried I may be in over my head.  However, the results of this one are very positive!

When I first decided to make this pattern, Continue reading “See my vest…in textured fleece”

hooded overshirt

Southwestern Over-shirt: Joys in the hood

Pattern: McCalls stitch n’ save 6681M6681

Skills acquired:

  • Homemade bias tape
  • Hoods!

There comes a time in every sewist’s life when they realize they are still learning.  I’ve been killin’ it on so many projects lately (with some minor complications), I really thought I was heading up to the big leagues.  Then I had to make a hood.  I don’t know why this baffled me so much, but looking back on it, it all seems rather stupid.

First of all this pattern is labeled “easy” right on the front.  This should not have been as much of a challenge as it was.  I think some unclear writing and my own inexperience with making a hood contributed to this lesson.

Let me step back a minute on this one.  I chose this pattern because I wanted to make something else besides pajama pants with this cotton flannel I had bought when on vacation in New Mexico.  I specifically searched for patterns for flannel fabric and figured for this type of native-american-like print some sort of over-shirt would be nice.  I thought this pattern looked cute with the hood and everything so I decided to go for it.   Continue reading “Southwestern Over-shirt: Joys in the hood”

A tribute to lounge wear – a few variations

Patterns: Sewaholic Tofino pants, McCalls M6681 & free-form pantsSewaholic Tofino

Skills acquired:

  • Adding pockets
  • Piping 

I’ve made some PJ pants in my time, in fact I’ve made a lot recently.  I decided to consolidate them all in one post, for more efficiency (another one of my job skills – companies take note!).

Pajama pants are probably the most basic garment there is.  It’s the perfect thing to make when you are first learning to sew.  You don’t really need a pattern, there are no zippers and they are made from basic cotton fabric.  There are ways to dress them up and build off the simple design, but for the most part there is nothing easier.  The most basic patterns have two pieces for the front and two for the back.  These all get sewn up pretty much how you would imagine (even the order doesn’t matter too much) and you end up with two legs.  The waistband gets folded down, an elastic is added, the pant legs are hemmed…and voila!  Something you can lounge around in that you made all your own.

Put it in your pocket

I wanted to make my boyfriend a new pair of lounge pants since I felt like I could improve upon the pants I had made him a while back.  He said to me, “If you do make another pair, could you add pockets?”  Hmmm…this was something I never thought of.  There aren’t too many patterns out there that include pockets on such a garment and I didn’t really trust myself to figure this out on my own.  I found this handy tutorial online and decided to experiment with some pants I was going to make myself, just so I could get it right.  I had a remnant of flannel which I really liked, although I did not have enough to make full length, which is why these are cropped.

PJ Pocket pants

It was all pretty straightforward, however I kept messing up because I had a hard time Continue reading “A tribute to lounge wear – a few variations”

The flannel shirt A/B test

Pattern: Grainline Studio Archer shirt

A/B testing is kind of my thing.  I did this a lot at my former job and it’s always exciting to me when I get real results from an idea or theory.  I’m a total nerd for data.  Back when I was just toying with the idea of making a flannel shirt I had bought two different independent shirt patterns and couldn’t decide which one to use.

Sewaholic VS Grainline

I did some initial reading up on both patterns, and made the decision to start with the Sewaholic Granville shirt because the pattern was designed for pear-shaped bodies (like mine).  I liked the result, shown in my previous post, but I couldn’t help but wonder how the shirt would look using the other pattern.  Well, the only way to know for sure is to test it out.

Hypothesis: The Sewaholic Granville shirt pattern is the better pattern for making a plaid flannel shirt

Now this obviously cannot be a real A/B test since there are a lot of factors in this test that make it imperfect and not scientific.  We all know that the first attempt at something has the most learning curve and so some techniques that were new to me when making the Granville shirt, were more familiar when making the Archer shirt.  Also the material I used for the Archer shirt was a lot cheaper, in price and quality, so the overall result would be slightly different no matter what.  There is no way to hold all conditions equal for this experiment, but I decided to still test out the following parameters:

  • Ease of pattern directions
  • Garment details
  • Overall fit and look

Ease of Pattern Directions

Both patterns have clear directions that could help anyone making their first button-down shirt.  The drawings are all well done and precise.  I did find it strange that the Grainline pattern didn’t specify which drawing referred to the interfacing cutting layout.  There is Continue reading “The flannel shirt A/B test”

The end of an era jumper

Pattern: McCalls 2075 (vintage 1969)McCalls2075

Oh!  Wouldn’t it have been great if I could have finished this right when Mad Men was ending!  Of course that was last May, almost a year ago.  As I watched the final season, I really wanted to make one of those vintage jumpers from the ’60’s.  I think I even had this pattern already.  But work ramped up and I never got around to it.  My mom gave me some royal blue corduroy last fall and I thought, “This will be perfect for this.”  But again things were busy at work and I only managed to cut it out.  As the year ended I started buying the buttons and some of the other notions I would need.  I started making the darts, but had to set it down as the holidays approached.  Obligations and lack of time again.  In January I began to chip away at it, step by step.  But I couldn’t quite finish it until mid-February, especially with all that hand sewing.

But this is called the “End of an Era” jumper for another reason.  A few weeks ago, I lost my job.  I have gone through this a few times, but it’s still never an easy thing.  Especially when it’s just due to some business deal that has nothing to do with you – some company buys another one and wants to clean house.  And suddenly I went from being busy every Continue reading “The end of an era jumper”