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Adventures in amateur sewing

Flannel shirt


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The quest for perfection: or just another button-down

Pattern: Granville shirt by SewaholicSewaholic Granville Shirt pattern

Skills acquired:

  • Flat-felled arms
  • Patience

It’s gonna be different this time.

Or at least that is what I told myself when I purchased yet another 3 yards of plaid flannel. I wanted to make another flannel shirt, one that I could be proud of. I had made 2 before that were okay but had some obvious imperfections. This time I was going to do it right – I was going to practice the techniques making a muslin with some cheaper fabric and make sure I knew what I was doing before I stitched into the flannel. I used the Granville shirt pattern from Sewaholic since I had really liked the fit on the flannel shirt I attempted before. I made it a size smaller since I wanted a more fitted look and I had obviously made it too large last time.

What I really wanted to accomplish was flat-felled seams on the whole shirt. I had tried this with the first shirt, but I found it difficult when installing the arms in the arm hole. It got a bit messy. When I attempted it on the second shirt, it looked so bad that I just unpicked it and sewed them in using my serger, abandoning the whole flat-felled looked for the arms. I cheated. This time, I wanted to get it right so I asked someone I knew who had successfully done this on a flannel shirt of her own. She directed me to this online tutorial. Aha! It all made sense now.

It had been a long time since I had made a real button-down shirt, so I had to re-learn a few things, which made me glad I had this practice fabric. One of those techniques was sewing up the yoke, as I always forget how you sew up the two yoke pieces to enclose the seams.

Installing a yoke

Luckily there are great online resources that will show you how you are supposed to roll up the shirt and sew the shoulder seams, such as this Crafty blog. Surprisingly, the Sewaholic site didn’t include a detailed tutorial on this.

Sewing up a yoke

sewing up a yoke

The trick here is rolling the shirt pieces up so that when you sew the shoulders together, you can pull the shirt through the neckline.Sewing the yoke- pulling the material through

The finished yoke comes out great, using this method, and seams and finished nicely without too much effort.Finished yokeSince the muslin came out so good, I immediately tried this on the real shirt.

Sewing up the yoke

Success! Pretty soon it was time for the dreaded sleeves. As excited as I was to try out the new technique from that tutorial right away, I knew that I needed to test it out on the practice shirt. Things were going so well, no need to lose patience now.

flat-felled seams on the sleeves

It wasn’t perfect, but I was definitely getting the hang of it. This definitely helped my second attempt come out a lot better.

Sewing in the sleeve

The difference between the shirts was in the fabric – flannel is thicker, therefore more trimming needed to be done to make sure the arm seam didn’t get too bulky. I was happy with the result.

sewing in the sleeve

 

A new found confidence that this shirt would be as close to perfection as I could get it began to take over. However, there was one more obstacle, the collar. I didn’t have much a problem installing collars in the past, so I didn’t worry about it too much. Unfortunately this ended up being my undoing.

I don’t have many pictures of my errors due to frustration, but with the practice shirt I ended up not measuring the opening on the collar stand correctly, causing it to stick out in parts. Oh well, it was just a practice shirt anyway. When I started on the other shirt, I was so focused on my previous collar stand mistake,  I didn’t realize I was putting the collar in backwards. I had to pick out the stitches and try again. I used the online tutorials, but was still getting confused as to how the collar actually was supposed to be sewn into the stand. Which side? And why was the bottom folded? In all, I ended up re-installing that collar 3 times, and because I had trimmed it twice, the end result was a collar that was not even on both sides. Sigh, there goes attempted perfection.

Flannel shirt

Despite the mistakes, I do believe it’s the best flannel shirt I’ve made to date. The sizing ended up being perfect, so at least I had that going for me.  This time I remembered to measure and shorten the sleeves, which tend to be long with this pattern. I’ve been wearing it all winter, no problem and have even gotten a few compliments on it.

In the meantime, the quest for near-perfection continues. I have 2 more shirts cut out. One happens to be flannel.

I will do this until I get it right.

 

Flannel shirt

Back of flannel shirt

This shirt also contains a yoke, cut on the bias for a more interesting look. The inner yoke is cut straight to prevent stretching more than normal.

 

Placket on sleeve

This is also my best placket to date. This one features the “house” shape which I like very much.

skirt front


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Rosari skirt: Super skirt of the 70’s

Pattern: Rosari Skirt by Pauline Alice, midi length

I totally love the skirts of the 70’s, so when I bought this unusual-looking corduroy, I knew I wanted something inspired by that decade. I actually bought a number of patterns with similar themes – A-line with buttons up the front. However, when I saw this pattern, I knew it was the one I wanted to try. I really liked the pockets and I’ve also been digging these indie patterns lately. It seemed like the one to try. This is a pdf pattern, which I’m still not loving, but I am getting used to the process of taping the sheets together. I just hate that it doesn’t fold up into a nice little envelope like the paper patterns, but I have made things a little better by storing them in those larger size manila mailing envelopes.

plaid corduroyThis pattern has a lot of options to choose from. There are 2 different lengths and about 4 different pocket styles. I went with pocket C, which was an inverted pleat patch pocket and flap. I cut two of these out, but when I read the directions, it seems that I Continue reading

Oslo sweater


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Time for the warm & fuzzies: The Oslo cardigan

Pattern: Oslo Cardigan by SeamworkOslo pattern

It’s been a pretty strange winter, weather-wise. An overly warm fall turned into a very mild November. And then all of a sudden, the snow rolled in by mid-December, after what seemed to be spring-like temperatures. By the time Christmas and New Years hit, we were plummeting into single digit and negative temperatures. January in New England began to feel like Minnesota. Lucky for me that I had already completed this project – a new cardigan that I can wrap myself in on those bitter cold days.

This was my second Seamwork pattern and again I was amazed by how fast I was able to sew this project up. I used a fairly thin sweater knit fabric that I had envisioned would be perfect for a large cardigan just like this one. The pattern lived up to most of my expectations, however I was surprised at how huge it ended up being, even making the XS size. I even tried to take the shoulders in a bit so they didn’t droop down so much, but it still ended up a bit too large in that area.

Elastic installed on shoulders

The only extra notion you need is this clear elastic, which I was lucky to have bought for another project (that I haven’t started yet). It stabilizes the shoulders nicely, especially since this fabric was not too thick.

I did really like the cuff-finish on the sleeves. Since I don’t have a top-stitch machine, Continue reading

toaster sweater


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The winter me: My favorite toaster sweater

Pattern: The Toaster Sweater by Sew House SevenToaster Sweater by Sew House Seven

Well the dust is off the machine now.

I’ve found a new enthusiasm for my old hobby of sewing clothes and I’ve been working through projects like crazy lately, finding every free moment II'm back baby! can to sew. As the weather starts to change and get cold and snowy, I have been planning out my new winter wardrobe and cutting into sweater knits and over heavy-ish fabrics. I’m like a phoenix rising…okay maybe that’s taking it a bit too far. But I have felt revitalized in getting back to the fiber arts.

I had this great sweater knit fabric that I bought a while back and couldn’t find the right pattern in my collection to go with what I wanted. I was picturing something casual, but that could be dressed up for work. I did some research and found this Toaster Sweater pattern from Sew House Seven. This is the first time I’ve tried a pattern from this company and I have to say I’m very impressed. The pattern directions were so well written and the simplicity of the pattern itself made this top a breeze. I cannot recommend it enough. I sewed up version 2, however I can definitely see me trying out version 1 at some point.

Making the cut

My only real mistake with this one was Continue reading


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Tanks for everything: the Aurora top

Pattern: Aurora tank by Seamwork

Skills acquired: 

  • Double needle for knit
  • Installing a walking foot

Hello sew blog my old friend.

This past summer, running was my life as I was training for my first marathon (as seen in my other blog). It was almost impossible to find time to sew. The good news is that I’ve been sewing quite a lot in the last month, so I’m hoping to be able to carve out some time to write about my projects.

Amidst all the training, I was actually able to complete one project over the summer – the Aurora tank top by Seamwork patterns. On top of everything else, I also got a new job this September, so I never got around to writing about this project. I had picked this particular pattern due to it’s simplicity – only 3 pieces to cut out and Seamwork patterns are known for their quickness to assemble. All are supposed to take under 2 hours. I worked on this in pieces of time that I could find here and there, but I’m pretty sure the 2 hours is accurate.

The walking foot! It was kind of a pain to put on as I had to take a few things apart to install, but worked pretty well in the end.

The only thing that was really challenging was trying to use a double knit needle. I had threaded a double needle before when I was making my corduroy pants and I remember Continue reading

madame booty


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More perspiration than inspiration

madame bootyThings have been collecting a lot of dust in my sewing corner.  One of the threads in my serger actually disintegrated…I’m not sure how that happened, but I’m sure it’s not a good sign.  Every time I look over at Madame Booty (pictured above), with her undressed body, I feel sad.  The first quarter of the year is a time when I usually take on a lot of sewing projects.  But I haven’t made time for sewing lately.  A new hobby has been consuming my life right now, even in these cold winter months – running.

At the end of last year, I cut a number of projects out and had plans for some winter items that I could finish before the season was up.  Unfortunately, the actual sewing has been happening in dribs and drabs.  Currently I Continue reading

and I feel meh


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The year ending 2016 – a look back

Everywhere you read, 2016 was a bad year for many people.  Celebrity deaths, elections with bad outcomes, unusual weather…it is definitely a year people love to hate.  I happen to agree, as 2016 wasn’t my year either.  Losing my job caused my depression to come back, mixed with some horrible anxiety and panic attacks.  I ended my summer with an epic ankle sprain that is still giving me problems.  Even as things improved the second half of the year, there was a lot of disappointments, difficulties and stress.  These last few months have been pretty stable, but I find it more comforting to call the whole year a wash and just keep looking to 2017.  It really can’t come fast enough.

But before I say goodbye (or good riddance), I thought it might be a good idea to reflect on my makes from the past year.  At first I was afraid this might be a waste of time since it feels like I got nothing accomplished this year.  At least not as much as I wanted to.  But looking back at all the projects I did complete, I noticed that I did actually get more done than I thought.  So here is a look back on some of the most impactful projects of the year.

Greatest Sense of Accomplishment: Fleece Vest

fleece vest-front

Of all my makes, this one really Continue reading