Friday, July 25, 2014

/the bossy dress shirt

Motivated by Morgan and Sally's awesome exchange last month, Katie (of What Katie Sews) and I decided to initiate our own installation of the Sew Bossy Initiative (Originated by Heather and Oona). I'm pretty impressed with how fast we were able to get this together, considering we're all the way across the globe from each other!

We exchanged a couple likes and dislikes, and both agreed on picking projects that would be good for the summer weather. Gotta take advantage of that ever-reclusive sun!

I was super excited to open my package and find:
1) Amazing handwoven nubby eco-friendly cotton from India.
Easy care fabric with great texture? YES PLEASE.
2) The Merchant & Mills Dress Shirt pattern(!!!)
3) The most adorable embroidery scissors in a super cute Liberty print holder. I am such a scissor fiend (but aren't all sewers?)
It really doesn't get any more British than this, folks. Katie sure knows how to pick 'em.

We've been having great weather, so I kept on putting off "officially" photographing this dress until the last minute (of course) and now it's POURING outside (of course) so all I'm left with are a couple super golden sun-drenched sunset phone photos from a wedding I went to a couple weeks ago.
Side note: Someone at the wedding said I looked like a "grown-up Madeline", which is basically the best outfit comment I've ever received. That mischievous redhead was always a kindred spirit.

Here. It's much easier to just have the dress form model. 

This pattern was really enjoyable to put together; not so boring you'll fall asleep, but not difficult at all. While cutting, I decided what was so great about this fabric. It's striped, but you DON'T HAVE TO MATCH THE STRIPES! I felt like such a cheater playing with the stripe direction to my heart's content and only worrying about being on grain! The front yoke panels ended up cut on the bias and the back yoke perpendicular to the main body. This dress has really nice details and just the right amount of them; I love the oversized bib and feel like the pleat below it is really lengthening.
I contemplated shortening the hem quite a bit, but decided to try it out in the original midi-length just to see what it would look like on me. Turns out, I love the length and the shirttail hem does flash a little lower side-knee. Mmmhmmm.

 Thanks so much Katie bossing me into such a great project! It's already getting its share of wear.

p.s. Check out Katie's project here!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

/beachy archer popover

I made this popover at the end of February, after I saw and promptly ordered this Steven Alan striped shirting from Mood. Upon the fabric's arrival, this shirt immediately popped into my brain (pun so intended) and subsequently out of my sewing machine. Unfortunately, it was still February and as you can see, nothing about this shirt says 'February in Washington'. I get more of a summertime 60's California beach vibe from it, but I think that's the stripes and coconut buttons talking. I could definitely hang with the Beach Boys in this thing.

You probably already guessed that this is yet another Grainline Archer shirt; complete with the hotly anticipated (by me) popover placket variation. I noticed this style when it started showing up at j.crew a few years ago, and now I'm seeing them everywhere, including many sewers' closets; Yuzukat's awesome chambray version (you know I'm going there soon), this beautiful bright white staple from Crafty Little Bugger, and from Oh She Dabbles, a cuuuute floral sleeveless version. I'll take one of each.

Here's the back, no big deal. My only regret is that it slipped my mind to place the stripes on the yoke horizontally. Just personal preference. When cutting, I get into a stripe-matching groove and apparently cannot stop. If I write it down here, I won't forget next time... or so I hope!

Regardless of the yoke misstep, I was very happy to add this to the rotation this Me Made May. Hopefully I'll get to channel my inner 60's Beach Gal in California this summer, too!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

/my favorite quilting tools (for sewing garments)

A few years ago, I read about how great fork pins were in Threads magazine, but it was just a name drop with no picture. After scouring the notions aisle of the craft store, I finally asked a sales assistant who kindly directed me to the quilting section. AHA! How I had been unknowingly bypassing this section my whole life, I do not know. Since then, I've picked up a few other notions mostly advertised as quilting aids but are awesome for garment sewing too:

Mary Ellen's Best Press
I stumbled into this stuff at a local quilt shop. I had never used spray starch before, but this non-aerosol starch alternative was intriguing, so I looked up reviews on my phone (yep, I'm that shopper) and was reeled in. Now I'm totally hooked. The sprayer produces a nice fine mist and it makes things crisp. 'Nuff said.

Clover fork pins
These pins are really helpful in matching stripes, plaids and seams. If you're as stripe-obsessed as me, these will come in handy. Slip these in with one prong on either side of the seam/stripe you're matching and it will not shift. I don't have a walking foot (Bernina walking foot = $$$), but this and a few other tools/techniques help to perfect the matching.

4.5" quilting grid
This little guy is really helpful when you need to cut perfect 45 degree angles on your bias tape ends, but don't want to take the whole thing over to the cutting mat. Also handy if you've misplaced your seam gauge for the thousandth time... not that I'm speaking from experience...

Clover Wonder Clips
An alternative to pins. Useful when sewing: bias binding, leather, oil cloth or anything that would scar from being pinned. I'm sure these were just as popular before I got some last year, but now it seems like I'm seeing them everywhere, being used for so many different applications!
Bonus: They're kind of cute and so is their name.

Anyway, I wanted to post about these tools not only to share the goodness, but because I want to know your favorites! Any tips on tools that everyone (or just me) is passing by?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

/how-to: sew a flat-felled hong kong seam

Unlined jackets are awesome in spring/summer, so I thought I'd do a little run-through on a fun seam finish I used for my Albion jacket. 'Tis the season!

Warning: "unlined" sounds like it's less work, but believe me- lining sounds like a luxurious shortcut when you're binding/felling every single raw edge inside. But it's totally worth it in the end (and pretty addictive)!

inside / outside

As the name I made up suggests, this is a combination of a Hong Kong seam finish and a flat-felled seam. I like it simply because it adds more interest to the inside of your garment than an unembellished flat-felled seam, is STRONG and gives a nice clean finish.

This old j.crew blazer has seams that look similar, but they are fully bound (the bias tape is folded under twice on the side you can't see) then flat-felled. I liked the look, but full-on binding added an unnecessary step and unnecessary bulk. On my jacket, I just folded the bias tape under with the raw edge still exposed on the underside (like the Hong Kong seam finish), then stitched it down in a flat fell.

1) Sew seams completely normally (5/8" in this case). Determine which direction your seams should be sewn down; on this two-piece sleeve and the j.crew jacket they face toward each other. Trim the side of the allowance that is underneath by at least half.

2) Sew 1" bias tape to the untrimmed seam allowance at 1/4", right side down.

3) Press bias tape away from the seam allowance. Here's the inside looking a little sloppy. It's okay though!  No one will be able to see it once you enclose the whole thing in just a minute.

4) Press bias tape under and pin the seam allowance flat to the garment.

5) Sew the seam flat to the garment. You'll want to get as close to stitching in the ditch as possible, but it is more important to stitch evenly parallel to the seam line. You'll be able to see this line of stitching on the outside of your garment, so you want it nice and straight!

 You can see here that my stitching in the ditch fell a little off track in favor of keeping the line parallel.

Here's a terrible photo of the outside.. but you get the idea.

 I finished the sleeves, hem and hood of the jacket starting at step 2.

Hopefully you'll find this helpful if you're on a bomber/blazer/rain jacket quest this spring!

Monday, March 17, 2014

/olive twill albion jacket

A good olive twill jacket is one of those things everyone searches for, right? Like brown boots and the perfect tee? Well, these were all true for me (and I'm still looking for/trying to draft the latter). I do have an olive twill bomber, but it's too big in a weird-bad way. And so the search continued...
Then as many sewers/makers do, I came to the realization that if I couldn't find it I should probably make it myself!

necklace: native clutter
Enter: Albion by Colette Patterns.
When I first got the pattern, I cut a coat out of coordinating wool and wool scraps I've had for 2+ years... and bought some flannel for the lining. No coat yet. I still think it will make a great winter duffle, but I guess I just couldn't get into making something for the cold when it was (and still is) on its way out. What I really wanted was this jacket I had first sketched out; my olive twill ideal!

My absolute favorite parts of this jacket are the toggles and buttons. This is true because I got to get my woodburning tool out of the closet and burn things. Admittedly, they still smell pretty singed but it's sort of nice. Reminds me of that extra care that went into them (and makes me want to make/eat s'mores).

I also changed the front and back of the jacket to include patch-style yokes and a rain flap instead of the plain yoke detail included in the pattern. I know the rain flap makes no sense on a duffel-style jacket, but I just have a thing for them.

The innard finishing got a little complicated (well, I made it complicated); I sewed Hong Kong seams, bias bound seams, flat-felled seams and combination Hong Kong/flat-felled seams. The latter were my favorite and inspired by my trusty twill j.crew blazer (as seen on the sleeve seams, lower left corner). I actually want to make more jackets for the express purpose of using this finish. It's fun and looks pretty nice, if I do say so myself.

I did end up entering this into Colette's Albion contest, just barely. There was a little scrambling to get it done just in time. You should really check out all of the entries here. SO much amazing work went into all of them! I'm just so glad to finally have the staple olive twill jacket I've wanted.

project notes:

PATTERN: Colette Albion

FABRIC: 1.5 yards quilting cotton for bias tape, 2.5 yards 100% cotton twill

NOTIONS: 2.5 yards 3/16" cotton bolo cord and wooden toggles and buttons I got for free 5+ years ago.
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