Top Dog Top: The Vienna Tank Waits for You

Pattern: Itch to Stitch Vienna Tank

It’s fall in New England, but currently it still feels like summer. Since I didn’t have much time for my blog this summer, I thought I would take the opportunity on this hot sunny day in September to write about some of the summer projects I worked on.

I’m extremely proud of this tank top, which uses the Vienna Tank pattern from Itch to Stitch. This pattern was intriguing to me because it uses both knit fabric and woven fabric and I had just the knit that I wanted to use. I found this great wiener dog fabric at Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA and I thought it would make a cute animal-themed top. I found some soft black cotton for the yoke and ruffle to complete the garment.

This pattern required knit interfacing to stabilize the arm holes, as well as some stay tape for the pleat down the middle. I knew the interfacing would work well since I had successfully used this technique when sewing up another tank I had made.

Fusible knit interface helps stabilize the arm holes

No crazy twin needles this time, and that was okay by me. I just used a zig zag stitching on the hems. The knit was pretty stable and not too stretchy, so it worked really well with the woven back.

This tank got a lot of use throughout the spring and summer. I got to first break it out this past May when I was living in Gloucester for the month. The fabric is a bit on the thicker side, so its actually great in-between seasons and not especially great for the dog days of summer!

So hopefully more to come on these other summer projects as I wrap up the season. I feel like my summer sewing was extended with this crazy warm weather that we still keep having up north. Hoodie season is around the corner I’m sure, but for now I am enjoying my exposed shoulders in the sun.

Sail Sleeves & Matching Diagonals: Blouses that work for work!

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Pattern: Butterick 6663

I have been working from home since March 2020. Even though my company has assured me we will be going back into the office at some point, its been so long that I can’t even imagine it. I miss going to the office, however being at home has its perks. The absence of commuting gives me more time in the morning, and if I don’t have any meetings, I can usually just wear whatever I had on the day before. It is sad seeing all the clothes in my closet , hanging there unworn. When I was anticipating a return to the office last summer, I stitched up a few blouses with a pattern my mom had given me as a gift.

The first one I made with this yellow seersucker (I think) fabric I had laying around. I think I had intended on making a dress with it, but I’m not sure I actually had enough to do so. The blouse ended up a bit on the big side and I’m still not sure about the sleeves. They are a lot wider than the picture led on, but maybe it all comes down to me making it a size too big. Part of the problem was the miscalculation in size, but I think also the fabric choice also contributed as well. It’s just a looser fabric and it almost has some stretch, so cutting it with the pattern probably required a little more skill and attention.

Looks like I should be singing in a choir…but I do still like the angled hem on this.

There is an invisible zipper in the back, but I don’t even need it to get it on and off. I liked the way the hem looked on this and even though I’m not usually a fan of facing on the collar, it worked okay as there were a number of seams where you could tack it down.

When I first saw this pattern, I was a big fan of the cover view that had the flattering diagonal lines, so I went out to seek some shirting with stripes in order to replicate this look. I knew it was going to take me awhile to line everything up to match all the stripes, but it was worth it. I really liked how this top came out. I made it a size smaller, but with this shirting, it felt about 4 times smaller than the other blouse. It’s funny how much fabric really makes a difference in sizing. Maybe someday I will learn. I used french seams with both tops and it worked really well for this pattern.

Maybe I should have chosen something with less lines?

I really like this top and I think it is definitely a unique style to add to my work wardrobe. I didn’t get to wear it too much last summer, but I’m hoping to get more use out of it, as I prepare myself to wear real clothes again. Better now than later right?

Fleur de Fleece Pants: Making the most of 2020 cancellations

Pattern: Butterick B3314

These days, comfort is everything. As the days turn colder now, I find myself reaching often for my electric blanket. I usually need it after going for a run in this brisk weather and since running is the only way I get out of the house, I need this quite a bit. On the weekends, I love nothing more than to warm myself in these fleece pants I made – something that is obviously very simple to make, but more useful than I realized. When I cut these out, I thought these would be a fun addition on my planned road trip through Quebec. I was supposed to go on a big road trip last fall. Obviously that was cancelled, which was a bummer because I was really looking forward to traveling with my parents again and getting in touch with my roots a bit. I haven’t gone anywhere with my parents in many years and I know they were itching to get back to Montreal after their last trip got cut short due to an illness. I always love a good road trip, so I was extremely sad the borders never opened. And even though September isn’t usually too cold, I still think my pants could have come in handy on the trip.

I bought this fleece a while ago, not knowing what I was going to make with it. Fleece is not something I sew with often and there are only so many vests you can have. I had the idea to make the pants after starting the plans for my Quebec road trip. For this I used a typical pajama pants pattern, with no real surprises or challenges. I used my serger for most of the stitching and put in a run-of-the-mill elastic waist.

Continue reading “Fleur de Fleece Pants: Making the most of 2020 cancellations”

Against the Tide: Life’s no beach in 2020

IMG_9136This is probably my 4th attempt at going back to my blog this year. It’s obviously been awhile.

The last thing I wrote about was how much I love to travel and I was going to match up my sewing projects with the travel plans. As you may have guessed, the Covid-19 pandemic ended up putting an end to any of my travel plans and also caused some issues in my mental health. But things are not all bad. Through all the difficulties and adjustments of 2020, I still had my trusty sewing machine. And loads and loads of fabric.

Despite my silence, I have been pretty busy this year. My social life has become obliterated, but I did really get into my sewing again. I’m not sure why I had such a hard time going to back to this blog, it’s almost like I couldn’t find the right words in a world that has just seemed to get progressively more difficult. Maybe I thought what I had to say was so trivial – who care about some dress I constructed when people are suffering? Who wants to hear me moan about not going to Florida when people have lost jobs, livelihoods and loved ones.

Even though my idea for what I wanted to write about in 2020 didn’t work out, I still want to write about my projects. Continue reading “Against the Tide: Life’s no beach in 2020”

Austin 2020: Tanks for the Memories

Pattern: Aurora Tank by Seamwork

I love to travel. Over the last few years, I’ve really made it priority and planning trips has become almost a major hobby. My latest trip was a girl’s trip in Austin, TX with a couple of my closest friends. We planned the trip under the guise of running a race down there, but in reality we were more interested in exploring a new place rather than being competitive. I wanted to have a new piece for my trip so despite it being cold and wintery outside, I decided to sew up a knit tank top inside.

I knew I wanted to make another Aurora Tank, since it’s such a simple pattern and I enjoyed the one I made before. However, I knew my previous tank was not perfect so I decided to do a little reading about twin needle stitching on knits before I attempted another one. I saw some familiar issues with “tunneling” between the stitches and also tension Continue reading “Austin 2020: Tanks for the Memories”

Flowy top front

Going with the Flow: Starting up 2020

Pattern: Vogue V9005Pattern V9005

Despite all my big plans for 2019, I basically accomplished almost nothing I wanted to for the year. I also kind of just forgot about my blog. I didn’t actually forget, I just never seemed able to get to it, even while I was still sewing. But I’m not wanting to dwell on the past…

Last year was a pretty important year since I turned 40 and my significant other also turned 40. We had some big travel plans and life got pretty busy. It’s interesting how an age milestone can make you feel like you have to try to accomplish everything. Maybe it’s time to slow some things down, I’m not sure. I do have some travel plans for this year, although they are quite different from last year. My SO and I thought it would be a good idea to take some trips with our families this year since we felt it was important at this stage in our lives. It’s great to do these things when you can because you never know what life will throw at you. None of us is getting any younger.

But first up, I do have a girl’s trip planned to Austin, TX in a few weeks. I’ve been trying to decide whether Continue reading “Going with the Flow: Starting up 2020”

Dreary spring & flannels in May

Pattern: Granville shirt by SewaholicSewaholic Granville Shirt pattern

You can never have enough plaid flannel shirts, especially when you live in New England and you’ve only seen the sun once in the month of May. I’ve made this pattern about 4 times, so there is not much else to say about it specifically. You can check out my other posts on it here and here, if curious. It’s interesting to me how long it can take to finally understand something about a pattern you’ve made more than once. While I was making this shirt & another Granville at the same time, I finally realized that the “under-collar” was the part attached to the outside of the yoke. This is because it gets folder over and this part ends up underneath. It seems obvious now, but when you are just reading the directions and trying to decipher the drawings, it can get confusing as to what part is supposed to be attached to where. Hearing the word, “under-collar,” I immediately think it needs to be on the inside, not obviously thinking of how a collar is folded.

Speaking of the collar, this particular pattern has a really great tutorial on the website on how to make the collar & collar stand. This is really helpful since it’s probably the most complicated part of the shirt.

As I listen to more May showers outside, I wonder if it will ever be warm again. At least I have my many flannel shirts to keep me warm. Now that that I’ve some-what perfected it, it may be time to give the pattern a rest for now – at least with the flannel. Trying this out on some regular shirting could be a nice new challenge.

I’ve been spending this month gearing up for some summer projects and, as promised, some more sew learnings. Before typing this, Continue reading “Dreary spring & flannels in May”

February & March 2019: Getting the hang of pants, part 1

Pattern: Sewaholic Thurlow Trousers

Despite my lack of energy with writing blog posts, I did have a very productive February & March. I was able to finish up my two button-down shirts (well one is mostly done) and get my pants project underway. In order to figure out how to sew a decent pair of pants, I started out small – meaning shorts! What better way to figure something out by taking the whole leg out of the situation. Not only that but you waste less fabric this way.

The thing about pants is that it tends to get complicated with the fly. I always feel like I’m following the pattern, but somehow I miss some important detail and I end up with mutant pants. The first time, the fly was not centered. One time I couldn’t get it to lay flat. And the main thing I always forget to do is enclose the fly facing within the pants waistband so it sticks out unfinished and looks completely unprofessional.

The first pair of Thurlow shorts I attempted actually seemed to be going along as planned. One of the main thing I learned was in order to make sure the fly ends up in the right spot, you need to pull the left side over to the notches on the other side. This will help you avoid pulling it too far over (which I’ve done) or not over enough (which I’ve also done). I actually perfected the whole fly & fly facing thing on these shorts and I was extremely excited that these could be the shorts where it all came together. However, when I sewed the wasitband on, somehow the left side did not match the right side and I couldn’t figure out a good way to fix them. That and due to a careless error, I ended up having to cut the sides down more than I wanted, resulting in bad fit problems. This was not my day.

 

When I went back to attempt the 2nd pair of shorts, I was much more meticulous about going through each step. I think those mistakes also helped, as I breezed through the back welts and pockets (another confusing step from my first attempt) and fly construction. This time, the waist lined up pretty well and I was ecstatic.

I wish I could take all the credit for figuring this all out, but actually my main cause for success was discovering this sewalong blog post. I had a very frustrating time trying to Continue reading “February & March 2019: Getting the hang of pants, part 1”

The droid I was looking for: My BB8 hoodie

Pattern: Halifax Hoodie by Hey June Handmade

Skills Acquired:

  • Separating zipper

My year of learning is off to a bit of a slow start. However, the shorts that I am making are actually making great progress it’s starting to look like they will be a success. It is looking like I may extend my pants practice into March as well, as I didn’t really get a good start until the middle of February.

In the meantime, here is a project that I completed back in December. I’m quite proud of it, since it was one of my most successful pieces. I didn’t even have to make a test garment for this one either. I bought this BB8 fleece when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out. I fell in love with that little droid and even though I had no idea what I was going to make with the fabric, I ended up getting a few yards. The inspiration to make a fleece hoodie actually came to me at work – my office is pretty cold in the winter months and I’m always longing for more layers no matter what I wear. I did an extensive search for just the right pattern and settled on this one by Hey June Handmade. I’m really glad I did since it was really easy to follow.

There are two versions in this pattern, and I actually sewed up the the one that is not featured on the cover. This required a separating zipper to be installed down the middle. The zipper itself wasn’t hard to install, however it did require a bit of hardware as I was supposed to remove some of the teeth at the top. I needed some clippers, so I used some of my pliers to get the teeth out. It was tough getting them to not fly across the room, but I think I found them all…sure.

Everything came together pretty easily. I used some black ribbed knit for the cuffs and the bottom waistband which I think worked pretty well for the look. Using the fleece for these cuffs Continue reading “The droid I was looking for: My BB8 hoodie”

2019: Never stop learning

Although I have been away from this blog for awhile, I have been sewing. It’s been infrequent and the projects are slow-going, but I have been trying to fit in as much as I can with the small amount of free time I have. In these busy times, I feel like I need to be strategic about my sewing since time has become less of a luxury.

When I first started making my own clothes, it was all about learning. I was learning about different fabrics, learning new techniques – I loved trying new things. The last half of 2018, sewing felt like a bit of a chore. I was still enjoying the process of trying to complete my uncompleted projects, but because I had so many other things going on, it was all very tiring. I have since given a few things up and I am getting into more of a routine with my new-ish job. I want to get back into problem solving mode with my sewing and I think this year I can make it happen.

I’ve always been the type of person who loves to learn. Part of the reason I love my new job is that I am learning so much more than the last few jobs I’ve had. I’ve been taken out of my comfort zone and every day I’m trying to perfect skills that I’m not naturally good at. It’s rewarding, but at times it can be mentally exhausting. Sewing could be a welcome distraction at times, but this year as I settle into more comfort with my routine, I want to really focus on the learning. This is why I’m changing things up a bit in my sewing project management. Before I would keep tabs on all my uncompleted projects, trying hard to get garments finished within the season I would be wearing them. I always seem to fail at this. Even though it felt like I was focusing on things, I really lacked a lot of focus and any little change in routine or life happening would really throw my plans out of wack. I need to keep things a little simpler in order to fix my focus and feel like I’m improving my skill. I’ve decided that each month I will pick something to focus on and hopefully I can diversify this enough so that I can still keep learning new skills and perfecting new garments.

For the first month (January obviously), Continue reading “2019: Never stop learning”