So, what do we think – is the end of February too late for a reflection on the previous year?

Late to the party as always, I didn’t really have last-year-wrap-up thoughts until this month. I’ll spare you a detailed rundown of my 2014 in sewing and just say that I feel like it was the year of the discovery of the magic of separates. Yes, after years of making jersey dresses my niche, I kind of got bored with them last year. Not with making them, actually, I still love nothing more than whipping out a full self-contained outfit in a day, but with wearing them. Last year I routinely found myself standing before my closet and either reaching for pants or shorts and a top, or lamenting that all my pants/shorts and tops were dirty and all I had left were dresses. For this amazing and surprising phenomenon, I credit my discovery of Making Bottoms That Fit (see: the magnificent Thurlow Trousers, shortsed and  skinnified, again and again). I remembered why I’d moved to an all-dress wardrobe in the first place (no fitting RTW pants), and now that reason had fallen away, leaving me with a whole new swath of wardrobe options to play with.

This is all a long way of saying I’ve been making a lot of tops-to-go-with-jeans. Many have been boring, or pattern repeats, or otherwise not compellingly bloggable, but I did want to share my experience making two tops from Lekala Patterns, or That Russian Company That Uses Your Measurements For A Custom Pattern. I of course chose two tops with weird necklines, because I’d heard their instructions were rubbish and I wanted to be frustrated? Not really, I guess I just like weird necklines.

lekala cross neck top First up I tried 4042, or “Blouse with cross-over collar” because the only place I noticed the pattern number was on the actual pattern. I had seen a few reviews of this pattern, including some made in a striped fabric with a chevron front, and I loved it. I knew it would be a bit of a puzzle, particularly considering the instructions contain no diagrams whatsoever. But I did figure it out eventually, mostly because it’s a similar construction to some of the other knot/crossover tops I’ve made before, but the other way up. Actually, the hardest part was figuring out how to attach the front shoulder yoke pieces. There are no notches or other marks to indicate what pieces go together and how, other than the neckline, so I had to kind of lay it out and decide which way made an armhole shape that made more sense. The notches that did exist weren’t labeled, obviously, but they sorted themselves out as I pinned the neckline twist and they actually lined up perfectly.

lekala cross neck top close

The fabric is a lovely bamboo knit (I bought it in a few colors) that was leftover from a top I made for my mom last year, so I didn’t have very much (maybe a little over a yard). Even though the pattern has a weird shaped front piece and I cut it on the diagonal, it all fit. I made the sleeves as long as the fabric would allow, so they ended up almost elbow length, which is fine with me. I cut the bodice the drafted length, but when I tried on the top, it was shorter than my preference (I do like longish tops, though). Miraculously I had a strip of fabric left over that was just barely big enough to finish the hem with a band, adding a couple of inches in length. I actually really like the way it looks with the horizontal stripe at the bottom as contrast. Happy accident! But I would probably just add length when I cut it next time.

The other top is the helpfully named “Blouse with collar“, or 4245. I’ve been wanting to make this kind of shawl collar for a while, and came close to buying the Kwik Sew pattern in this style several times, but what can I say, I’m cheap, so I was pleased to find this version instead.

lekala shawl collar top

Again, the instructions weren’t super clear, but this top has a much more obvious construction method, and as a result the text of the instructions was more helpful than the gobbledygook of the other top. You do have to sew a right angle turn at the corners of the front neckline, with the bodice corners going the opposite way, which is always basically impossible (or maybe just for me?), so my corners are kind of puckery, but it sort of blends in with the front gathers.

lekala shawl collar top close

This fabric is a fantabulous soft and beautiful mini-stripe coral orange merino jersey from The Fabric Store in LA. I thought the collar would make a nice cozy winter top, so I used the merino and lengthened the sleeves to full length. The length of this top, inexplicably, was just right. Not sure why the hem lengths would be so different, but I think these patterns come from many different places/designers, so there may not be a consistent length or fit across patterns.

I will say that both of these tops tend to ride up in the top front, bunching a bit over the boobs, so I find myself making the Picard Maneuver all day. I think this is more a symptom of the neckline design rather than a fit issue, but I can’t be sure.

Overall, I like these patterns and I would absolutely use Lekala again. When I first heard about the company, they had a super sketchy badly translated website, but now the site is pretty good and very straightforward. (And although they have many unique and interesting patterns, there are also some of the strangest, most terrifying things I’ve ever seen. Check out this one’s line drawing: Flashdance Scarecrow, anyone?) You enter your basic measurements, plus some less common ones if you want, and you can specify common adjustments. I was a little afraid to select anything other than “normal”, because I wasn’t sure how adjusted the pattern would end up, and I’m closer to normal in most things, I think. Plus with knit tops I didn’t figure it would make much difference. I will say that I think the fit is pretty close to what I get when I grade between sizes on any of the big 5 patterns. What was funny, though, was that without all the extra lines on the pattern paper to distract, the fact that my side seam is basically straight up and down (because I have no waist) is embarrassingly obvious.

At any rate, I’ve been really enjoying making and wearing more separates, so I anticipate that this year will be more of the same. To that end, I’m currently toiling away on an entry in the Pattern Review Travel Wardrobe contest – two tops, a pair of jeans and a skirt (hopefully), as well as the odd jersey dress or two (old habits die hard). And that’s because… I’m going to New York in just over a week! I’m excited about everything but the weather (though I did buy a nice wool coat – like I was going to make one of those in a month). I foolishly thought that by March  the snow would be done, but clearly I was wrong. Anyway, blizzards be damned, anyone out there on the other side of the country want to meet up in the Garment District for some shopping? I’ll be there from March 5th to the 9th, and am prepared to ditch the husband for at least a full morning or afternoon (or both) while I gorge on fabric. Got any fabric store suggestions? I’m planning to leave a lot of room in my suitcase to bring home all the awesome fabric I know New York has to offer. And it would be even better if I got to meet any of you awesome East Coast sewing folks!

I’m usually not one to jump on trends (not because I’m stubborn, more because I’m just always late for everything), but the bomber jacket trend got me excited enough to actually make an effort to catch it. For me, that meant ordering the Papercut Rigel Bomber Jacket pattern well in time for fall sewing, securing fabric for not just one but two bombers, and then letting it all sit for months. So I was excited to see the announcement of Rigel Jacket January – with all the Christmas crafting done, I’d totally have time to make a bomber, or maybe two! Oh, when will I learn.

Work ate me alive last month, and I managed to barely finish one jacket on January 30th, photograph it on the 31st, and then absolutely not have time to post it until now, after the Rigel wrap-ups were all done. Ah well. Here it is all the same.

ponte rigel

Aaaand… I’m not so sure about it. I was really excited about the idea of a ponte bomber (knits for all the things!), and more excited about a mustard ponte bomber with black and white accents. I found this cool patterned ponte for the ribbing sections (I got it from Girl Charlee but it was at also), and decided to use it for the welt pockets too. I love the combination in theory, but in practice… does it look cool and trendy, or like something a senior citizen would wear to mall walk? There is a bit of the 70s track suit about it. Is that good or bad? I’ve lost all perspective.

ponte rigel?

Construction-wise, well, I always think ponte will be more well behaved than it is. I suffer under the delusion that bulky knits will be as easy to work with as they are comfy to wear, but sadly it is not so. Mostly it’s just that the front is poufier than I’d like, because ponte doesn’t press at all. The zipper went in fairly well, actually, but it’s still a little wibbly, and because I interfaced the facing but not the front, they fed slightly unevenly and one of the corners at the top of the zipper is kinda wonky. Also, I shortened the neck facing a little because I was using ponte and not stretchy ribbing, but I should have shortened it more because it flops over in the back. And I lengthened the hem band a little for the same reason, but I could’ve used a little more because I really had to stretch it a lot when I was attaching it and my gathering is kind of uneven and strained looking near the front. (And I had a heck of a time with the corners of the ribbing in the front – corners are evil, I’ve decided.)

I was conflicted about what size to make. On the size chart I’m just under a S in the bust but a M in waist/hip, but I’d heard it ran big and looking at the pattern pieces I noticed there is no waist shaping at all, it’s just straight down the side to the hip, so I figured I’d be safe making a straight S. I actually think I could have gone with an XS in the shoulders/neckline, at least in this knit. Practically every review mentioned that the sleeves were short, but I didn’t find that to be true at all – in fact they seem kind of on the long side for me, and I don’t think I have super stubby arms. Again, that could be just because of the knit, or the fact that the shoulders seem to be a bit too big.

ponte rigel back

There’s also a lot of talk out there of the need for a lining. I knew I didn’t want to line a casual knit jacket, so I resolved to make the pocket insides as neat as possible. I cut the interfacing for the welt hole just slightly bigger than the hole would be to avoid a big visible rectangle of white on the inside. I used a lightweight rayon jersey left over from this top for the pocket bags, because the color was almost identical. This was a good idea in theory, but the jersey was a bit of a challenge to work with as a pocketing. I serged stay tape along the top of the pocket bag pieces so they wouldn’t stretch too much when I sewed them to the welt, but they still got out of alignment a little (because the stay tape wasn’t wide enough to actually get caught in the seam when I sewed the pockets to the jacket along the welt lines).

rigel pocket construction

The welt pockets look good from the outside, but on the inside I wasn’t able to serge the pocket bags neatly because of the weird corners, and the welt insides don’t stay put because ponte doesn’t press, so, yeah, I see why everyone wants to line the jacket. I will say that I have several RTW unlined jackets, and I don’t mind seeing the pocket bags on the inside at all, but on closer inspection they’re mostly in-seam pockets, not messy welts. I do think that in a well-behaved woven, the visible pockets on the inside wouldn’t bother me. All the inside seams and edge of the facing are just serged, which is a plenty neat finish for me on a casual jacket.

ponte rigel inside

My last issue with this jacket is this: what on earth do I wear this with? I’m realizing lately that my love for color and pattern has left me with a lot of things that don’t go together. I love the idea of a funky print jacket, but the fact of the matter is, my plain solid jackets get a lot more wear. Adding to the what-do-I-wear-with-it conundrum is the super low neckline of the jacket. I actually really like the v-neck as a design feature, but it does show the top I’m wearing underneath, and with the patterned neck binding, I can’t really pair it with a print top… I fear I’ve made a totally unwearable jacket.

While all this is disappointing, it has strangely not deterred me from bomber jacket fever. I still do want to make another Rigel, this time in a woven. I have a white, black and gray pixelated print poly faille earmarked for, yes, another print jacket, but hopefully a slightly more neutral one. Maybe we can do a Rigel Jacket June? Because it’ll probably be that long before I get around to it.

Sometimes a fabric just calls to you. When I spotted this coral and blue buffalo plaid jersey at Girl Charlee I just wanted it. I can’t really explain it, but it had to happen. I wasn’t sure what it was going to become, but I bought two yards and said “we’ll see”.

I’ve noticed in the past few years that I never have any suitable winter-y clothes by the time I go to an actually winter-y place at Christmas – and this year I finally figured out why. Our climate here in coastal southern California is such that it doesn’t get properly summery (with sun and temperatures above 70) until it’s basically fall. Then there’s no fall to speak of, and suddenly in the first week of December it’s winter and here I’ve been making summer clothes all October, but I sure haven’t made anything with sleeves since the previous January. Sometimes I can eke out something fall-ish in November, but this November was totally consumed with craft fair prep, so here I was the week before Christmas and I just really, really wanted to make something seasonally appropriate. Enter the buffalo plaid jersey.

My first thought was “shirt-dress”, which was swiftly followed by “wait, no, that’s stupid, I don’t have time for buttons and collars!” So then my third thought was “cowl neck circle skirt dress?” And down that rabbit hole I went.

plaid frankencowlskater

Although I was almost certain I either owned or had seen a commercial pattern for a cowl neck circle skirt dress, after some interneting I conceded that I was imagining it and set about to Frankenpattern one. My trusty Tiramisu half-circle skirt pattern came out first, this time cut on the fold because I didn’t want a center seam. I cut my usual 3 inch tall rectangle waistband, but on the bias for plaid interest. And for the bodice, I dug out Kwik Sew 3740, which I had made once years ago, pulled it out of the back of the closet on a particularly cold December day recently, and thought, this is lovely, I should use this pattern again. I thought it a good candidate for a dress bodice because it’s very close fitting (read: tight) through the waist and I thought it would attach easily to my waistband. This proved to be true. I put on my existing top and measured from the front center neckline seam to my waist to determine where I needed to cut the pattern for just a bodice. It mostly worked, but I think I was too generous with my seam allowance estimation and the waistband ended up just a smidge low for my preference (hence extra fabric in lower bodice).

frankencowlskater back

It sewed together really fast and I was actually able to take it to Nevada and wear it in real winter weather. I also was able to photograph it in front of the beautiful new garage that my father built and sided with reclaimed wood and tin, which turned out to be kind of a perfect backdrop for this dress. Having grown up in the country, I’ve always avoided typical “country” clothing, but this dress with my new brown boots has a slight country vibe that I’m actually really digging.

plaid frankencowlskater 2

See, sometimes the fabric knows better than I do.

This seems like the time of year when you might be finding yourself in need of a cute party dress right quick, so I thought I’d share the dress I speed-made when I found myself in that predicament a few weeks ago. I had a wedding to go to (the wedding of a very stylish friend) and I wasn’t really feeling anything in my stash (pattern or fabric). I was working in LA the week before the wedding, so my cunning plan was to find a fabulous fabric downtown and make a simple dress with it on my only day off before the wedding. And, actually, incredibly, that happened.

salty kirsten

I had a sort of vague idea that I wanted a blousy, gathered elastic waist, kimono sleeve dress, after I saw a friend wearing a dress of that sort a while ago. I had a vaguer notion that I could probably hack the Kirsten Kimono tee (because I haven’t done that enough already), but I wasn’t sure about the rest. This of course was all dependent on me finding a nice drapey statement fabric somewhere. Luckily I scored at the Loft – a cool geometric print in a lightweight poly of the sort that I generally abhor working with, but the print was so. cool. that I had to get it. Plus because fabric at the Loft is sold by the pound (yes!) and this fabric weighs practically nothing, what did I have to lose? I also picked up some black ITY for lining or a slip or whatever, because a lady at a fabric store once demonstrated to me that sheer fabrics with white in the print pop a lot better on a black lining than a white one – who knew?

I then got it into my head that the Sewaholic Saltspring dress would make a good base for my Kirsten hack. It had the blousyness I desired and a built-in lining that controls the amount of blousing, which I remember thinking was a brilliant idea when I read about it back when the pattern was released. One problem – I did not own the Saltspring pattern. With no time to order a copy from Canada, and after coming up empty at a physical shop in LA that stocked literally every other Sewaholic pattern, Ms. McCall mentioned that she had just that day gotten an email announcing the addition of the Saltspring to the pdf pattern selection (I get the Sewaholic emails too, but that one never arrived for some reason), so I pushed aside my hatred of assembling pdf patterns and I downloaded it. (I do wish that there was a map of the pdf tiles as part of the file, so I could have avoided printing the 10 or so pages that were the bottom half of the maxi skirt, but sadly there was not so I had to lay the whole thing out, ugh.)

salty kirsten back

I used the Saltspring skirt and bodice lining as-is, used the skirt pattern to cut a skirt lining too (which is strangely not called for in the instructions), and used the bodice pattern pieces laid on top of the Kirsten top pieces to determine the length, width, and shape of my hacked bodice. I liked the idea of the sleeved bodice being lined by the tank-top shaped original lining, so the sleeves and shoulders would remain sheer (though my fabric is busy enough that you can’t really tell). I finished the tank top lining with foldover elastic (the only black FOE I had around was black with white polka dots on one side, so I applied it with the dots facing in for a detail only I can enjoy). I’ve used FOE like this a few times now with yet-unblogged tank tops and I like the technique – the FOE finishes the raw edges and extends out to form the straps. (The best free description of this I can think of right now is in the So, Zo free cami pattern.) I also omitted the zipper, of course, cutting front and back on the fold. I can’t imagine a scenario where I would need a zipper to get into this dress – the elastic waist and blousy bodice make it easy to slip into. Of course, as a straight-up-and-down I-shape, I can almost always omit zippers.

The hardest part of this dress was finishing all the edges nicely in this terrible floaty poly. I used a self bias strip turned to the inside and topstitched at the neckline, and did a narrow hem on sleeves and skirt by serging the edge and using the serging as a guide to fold over the hem twice and topstitch. The skirt hem is a little wavy, but the fullness of the skirt mostly distracts from the wonky hem. I also cut like four inches off the skirt. The longer skirt with the blousyness of the bodice felt frumpy, so I went for the short-is-dressy-right? idea and chopped off the length. I left the ITY lining unhemmed because lazy.

salty kirsten 2When the Saltspring pattern came out, I dismissed it as not flattering for me, but I’ve recently been rethinking that assumption and I’ll likely make it with the intended bodice in future. (I actually made a knock-off version of the Saltspring for my vacation, before I bought the pattern, and I like that dress too. Could I have hacked that hack into this hack? Certainly, but sometimes when I’m in a hurry I just want a real someone-else-did-all-the-work pattern.) I do think that in this case the flatteringness is improved with the addition of a belt, though I have not always found this to be true. As someone with a pretty slight decrease in circumference at the waist, sometimes I think a belt adds bulk there. With this dress, though, the belt helps define the waist in the midst of all that poufy.

I did end up really liking this dress, and therefore have worn it to not just the wedding but also two additional parties. I feel like I successfully mild-winterized the Saltspring pattern, and even though the Kirsten bodice in the woven is a smidge tight across the back, it still worked out pretty well. So if you’re tackling any holiday party dress hacks, I wish you the best and assure you as always that a tight deadline can actually be your friend!

I have slightly unusual feelings about pajamas. I consider pajamas suitable only for sleeping in – not lounging around in during waking hours. I change into pajamas right before bed and change out of them first thing in the morning. I have many friends who will happily wear pajamas at all times they are not outside their house, but that is just not me. The one day of the year, though, that I do wear pajamas for longer than I’m asleep is Christmas – it somehow seems just as wrong to me to open presents and eat Christmas breakfast in regular clothes as it does to do basically anything else in pajamas. So, naturally, I wanted a new and exciting set of pajamas for this year’s Christmas morning.

chevron pjsI’ve been eyeing the Robert Kaufman chevron jersey line for a while, but it seemed just a little too crazy to make a regular garment out of. I considered making a scarf with it, then realized it would make totally awesome pajama bottoms! I went ahead and ordered the yellow colorway from, along with my best guess at a solid yellow color match from the same line. It was during the Black Friday sale, though, so of course I got a notification that the solid yellow was out of stock and did I want something to replace it? I requested the solid gray in the same line, but when it arrived not only was it too pale gray to be a nice match to the chevron fabric, but it was thick and rough and just generally not very nice jersey. The chevron fabric, by contrast, is lovely, soft and stretchy and with good recovery, and I was very disappointed that the solid wasn’t similar at all. In the end, I discovered that I already had not one but two suitably color matched cotton jerseys in my stash from way back when, so I decided to make a contrast raglan pajama top with those instead. (The terrible Kaufman jersey has been reassigned to muslin leggings, so not a total loss.)

chevron pjs 2The top pattern is New Look 6230, which I picked up because I don’t have a great raglan pattern yet. And, well, I still don’t. It’s a good pajama top, but the neckline is a bit wide (which, to be fair, is obvious in the envelope picture), so bra strap showage would be a problem in a daywear top. I also prefer a scoopier neck to a wide neck, so I’ll have to look elsewhere for my TNT raglan. The fit, though, is spot on in my usual size 10-12. New Look is like my spirit pattern company – I think they draft for wider shoulders and a smaller bust than the rest of the Big 5.

The bottoms I cobbled together from Simplicity 2317, my one and only sleepwear pattern, from which I have made one blogged set of pjs and two more unblogged bottoms. I used the knit shorts pattern as the base and extended the legs out roughly based on the woven bottoms pattern narrowed slightly. Pajamas don’t strike me as requiring too much precision.

I constructed the top on my conventional machine, but I put the bottoms together just using the serger, which is actually a super fast way to make knit bottoms. I’m getting more comfortable now (after my swimsuit making adventures) with using the serger to construct garments rather than to just finish seam allowances, so I’m trying to use it more for simple knit garments. I finished the whole set in just a few hours the other night.

chevron pjs presents!

So now I have some snazzy new pjs for opening presents in the morning. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and I wish you a comfy pajama morning too!

I suppose it’s odd to find oneself finally having some time to breathe in the second week of December, but that is how it’s fallen out for me. The pre-Christmas frenzy seems somewhat calm in comparison to the preceding weeks, which for me included: an extremely challenging period at work during which I frantically sewed unseasonable summer clothes for my Hawaii trip, consisting of three dresses, three tank tops, two swimsuits and two cover-ups for me, and a dress, skirt, and coverup for my mother (which I will share in a huge Christmastime summer clothes roundup post soon); said trip to Hawaii (which was amazing); working in Los Angeles for the three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving (which happily featured hanging out with Det Houndstooth and Ms McCall and buying an obscene amount of glorious fabric, of course); hosting said Thanksgiving at my house (which is such fun but a lot of work); and all the while frantically trying to make sellable items for my first-ever craft market last weekend.

Yes, I actually sold my handmade goods! It’s one of those things I’ve always half-considered and dismissed for various reasons, but I finally took the plunge when a friend conceived of and organized a sort of neighborhood pop-up market made up mostly of crafty friends who are at that point in our chosen craft that we’ve made enough stuff for ourselves but we want to keep making things… It was a great opportunity to experiment with selling in a somewhat safe environment of newbies, as opposed to trying to jump into an established professional craft market.

craft market booth

This was my “booth” – a table dressed with a length of poplin from my stash and laid with my wares: several zipper pouches, some foldover clutches, a couple tote bags, and a selection of silver charm and bike chain necklaces and earrings. It was so interesting to see what people liked and what they weren’t really that interested in. As I suspected, the graphic pattern bags sold well, though it seemed that people were more interested in the color than the cool prints. The foldover clutches with straps sold right away but the ones without didn’t sell at all, so clearly more straps needed in future. Also, smaller zipper pouches were more popular than larger ones, which makes sense in retrospect.

The jewelry was less popular, which was disappointing but not totally surprising. I know I’ve never been “on trend” in my jewelry taste, and it would seem that the reason I can never find pieces I like in stores is not because there’s a market niche that needs to be filled, but rather because I’m the only one who likes that kind of thing. I also realized about halfway through the market that people weren’t understanding that I had made the silver pendants myself (having never heard of silver clay until last year myself, that makes sense), and interest picked up when I started telling people that the pendants were handmade and pure silver.

craft market jewelry

I actually had a really good time selling my wares, even though it was rather nerve-wracking. I would absolutely consider doing another market, and possibly even selling on etsy if I ever found myself with a ton of free time to make things. I could say I “made money” at this market in the sense that I sold the items for more than they cost to make in materials, but the primary problem for me with buying supplies is the “one for me” syndrome – buying extra of a fabric or notion because I like it and I want to keep it for myself. So in that sense perhaps crafting for money is a terrible trap. But it was fun to buy a bunch of great quilting cottons again – I’d forgotten how pretty that fabric can be. And I also enjoyed sewing things that don’t have to fit a body!

But after all of that I was way, way behind on seasonally appropriate selfish clothes sewing. With the weather finally turning toward real (California) winter, I’ve found myself wishing that I already had all the lovely winter garments I’m planning on making (why yes, 30% off merino from The Fabric Store that I bought last month, I’m looking at you). So in a bout of determination that I would have the perfect outfit for today’s activities of visiting the farmers’ market, doing a matinée at work, and the evening’s trip to the tree farm for our Christmas tree followed by our annual post-tree-decorating traditional watching of Love Actually, I stayed up til 1 last night making a dress with deer on it.

Butterick 5246 deer

(And yes, I absolutely acknowledge and am thankful for the fact that I live in a place where I can buy fresh local tomatoes(!) and a Christmas tree on the same day while just wearing leggings and a three-quarters sleeved dress. I love California.)

This fabric is from, obviously, Girl Charlee, and although it broke my rule of thumb for online fabric purchases (9oz and above only), well, it had deer on it. I shamelessly copied this Boden deer dress, and to that end I pulled out Butterick 5246, which has a similar empire line and I’ve made twice before. My last version was in the super stretchiest knit ever, which hid some of the fit problems that this version, made in just about the un-stretchiest knit ever, reveals – strange armpit wrinkles (which Nhi advised me how to fix but I didn’t bother to this time), terrible low back pooling, weird off-grain looking sleeves. But whatever, it has deer on it.

B5246 deer detail

I actually had to cut the bodice out twice, because of an ill-advised decision to attempt an exposed neckline binding. It turned out terribly, but luckily I had enough deer left to cut another bodice (I was not unpicking that binding at midnight). I also scooped out the front neckline by about an inch, which I prefer to the original can’t-decide-if-it’s-a-boat-or-scoop-neckline of the pattern. This pattern has a single back piece, but when I redid the bodice I had to cut the skirt off the old one and make a back waist seam to attach the new back bodice piece, so now it has a back waist seam. Oh well. Deer.

I have a ton of gift sewing to accomplish in the next week (because I so cleverly decided to make everyone’s presents this year…), as well as some actual cold-weather items for myself to wear in actually-has-winter Northern Nevada over Christmas, so back to the sewing machine for me for now. But hopefully I’ll get around to sharing all my (seasonally-appropriate or non) previous projects over my holiday break. ‘Til then… deer!

B5246 deer 2

So here’s the thing.

I know that it’s technically fall now. I know that all of you fellow northern-hemisphere types are eagerly drinking pumpkin lattes and chopping up butternut squash and pinning fall wardrobe inspiration.

But I’m never one to follow a crowd.

So here I am in Southern California, where October is our summer, enjoying our 75-90 degree weather and still making summer clothes. Yep. Because in addition to it being much more shorts-and-tanks weather in October here than it ever is in July, I am also taking a trip to Hawaii in the last week of the month. Which means, with apologies to my fall-leaning friends, I will be posting tank tops for a few more weeks. (And also bathing suits! I have completed two of a possible four suits for my trip, to be blogged after they have been photographed in suitable environs, i.e., not in my backyard.)

pneuma tank

Here then is the first of my seasonally unsuitable tops, the Papercut Pneuma Tank – which, to be fair, I did make in August, a slightly more reasonable month for tank-topping. I was going to visit a friend who was working at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, Utah (a really good company, by the way – if you have theatre leanings and find yourself in the vicinity of southern Utah, check it out) and realized the likelihood of me going hiking on said trip was high, and I had no suitable wardrobe. My workout gear is exclusively of the bike variety, and padded shorts and a jersey are not ideal hiking wear. I had also been thinking about the Pneuma since I found this beautiful, soft, flowy, lululemon-type jersey at FIDM on the great LA meetup trip. So I printed the sucker out and got to work.

pneuma side

The one thing I knew I wanted to change was the depth of the armholes on the tank – I for some reason have been very against the kind of tanks that show side skin below the bra. Not sure why, but there it is. So I extended the side seams up 3 inches. This actually worked out really well. I cut a small in the bra and top of the tank, grading to a medium at the waist/hip of the outer tank.

pneuma mod

I do have some serious pooling in back above the butt, but I’m fairly sure you can’t do a swayback adjustment on a flowy tank top, so I guess that’s just going to have to be okay. (I also have some serious bike jersey tan lines… nothing to do about that either, I’m afraid.)

pneuma tank backI didn’t have the recommended bra strapping for the straps (curse my lack of foresight when I was in the giant elastic superstore in the LA fashion district), but I did have a ton of foldover elastic in a lovely shade of gray, so I folded it and stitched it shut and used it like strapping. Now, I don’t have literally any need for bust support (seriously), so this worked for me, but probably only for me. I also made the bra part out of regular ol’ cotton/lycra jersey, which, again, is plenty of support for me but basically everyone else would probably want their sports bra made from something a bit more springy.

I like the style of this tank quite a bit (I’m a sucker for strappy tops), although for a real workout tank I should have used a natural fabric – on my hike I found that the nice flowy fabric didn’t actually breathe at all. Such are the breaks with mystery yardage from super-discount stores. Still, I felt very stylish… Here I am at the end of the trail in Cedar Breaks (attempting a fake yoga pose, sorry. Boy, I am not a yogi). Those rock formations are amazing!

pneuma in action

By-the-by, I did not make these shorts – gasp! Having spent the little time I had before this trip making this tank, in desperation I ran to the REI and happened upon this pair of shorts on the sale rack. And they fit amazingly. They have basically the same fit as my Thurlow shorts, which is awesome. (The brand is Lole, which I had never heard of until I bought these shorts, but they seem to be an up-and-coming lulu-competitor.) I haven’t bought RTW in so long, it felt weird, like cheating. But also so easy and convenient… Now, I know that a great find like this almost never happens, which I why I started sewing in the first place. But I’ve been outright dismissive of buying RTW in the past couple years, and now I’m thinking of giving it another shot now and then, to fill holes in my wardrobe that I don’t have time to fill myself. On the other hand, as I’ve made some limited forays into shopping for clothes again, I’m reminded with every sizing chart I see that I don’t fit into a straight size anywhere. I’ve gotten so used to grading between sizes that I’m miffed when I remember that I’ll have to choose just one size to buy. So, sewing for the win, eh?


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