Monthly Archives: September 2012

This jacket has been a long time coming. But here it is, my third item in my Yellow Pants! Mini Wardrobe for the Pattern Review contest:

This pattern, Simplicity 2443, was one of the first patterns I bought when I started sewing garments, and I knew right from the start that I wanted to make the jacket in gray corduroy with inside seams bound in lime green. I bought the fabric for it eons ago, and then every fall and spring I pulled it out and included the jacket in my seasonal sewing plans, only to have it pushed out by no time/other stuff. But not this time! Thanks, Pattern Review contest, for getting my butt in gear! Again!

The funny thing about finally getting to a project that’s been planned forever is I think I went in overconfident. Pshhaw, what, just a collarless unlined jacket? Easy peasy, I’ve made more complicated things than this! Bags, lined dresses, a Minoru! Yeah, well, turns out I have not totally mastered this sewing thing. I will confess that I was totally thwarted by the pockets. Apparently nothing brings a haughty sewist down a peg like rounded corners. I tried stitching along the foldline and pressing under along the stitching, but couldn’t get the corners smooth or even. I tried making a cereal box template and pressing around that, same thing. I tried cutting a lining for the pockets, stitching and turning, but I’m not good enough at sewing tight curves to make them even. Then I shouted and threw the pockets across the room, which somehow didn’t miraculously make the pockets look good. Then I sighed, cut more pocket pieces, and changed the rounded corners to angled ones. That, I can sew. I kept the pocket lining on the lower pockets, because I had cut it out, and it made it easier to guarantee the corners would be symmetrical, and it matched the lining I used for the pocket flap facing (I also redrafted the flap to not have any curves). Unfortunately the lining fabric is light gray and it peeks out a little on the edges of the lower pockets, when viewed from the side. Well, at least they don’t look like they were sewn by a 5-year-old. Hopefully.

But once the pockets were done, it was relatively smooth sailing. I say relatively because the bias bound seams, while not challenging conceptually, were sure fiddly. Really, really fiddly. I made my own double fold bias tape, which I suppose is as easy as everyone says, but what they’re not saying is that it. takes. forever. (And, in a bout of rash unthinking, I  turned my entire piece of this green fabric into bias tape and didn’t leave any for the pocket flap facing/pocket lining. Sad. But I do have a ton of lime dot bias tape now.) Additionally, it is really hard to sew 1/4 inch bias tape over a single layer raw edge – my stitching wanders quite a bit and several times I didn’t catch the edge and I had to rip out a section and do it over… Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad I did it and I love love love the effect – just don’t look too closely at the stitching. (I just sewed the binding on with gray thread to avoid constantly rethreading my machine throughout the project, but let’s pretend that contrast stitching was a design choice, okay?) Here’s a peak at the inside:

I’m really pleased with the fit of the jacket – I took a chance and just made a straight size 10 and it totally worked out. I generally make a 10 in the shoulders and grade out to a 12 at the waist, but reviews indicated that this jacket was boxy in the waist and I wanted a more fitted look, so by not grading I effectively narrowed the seams toward the waist. The only other adjustment I made was to slightly decrease the amount of ease in the sleevecap. It’s still got the poufy look without being too poufy.

I did include all the frou-frou details, with the exception of the ribbon ties (I just didn’t think that dangling ribbons would really fit in with my lifestyle). I don’t think I’ll put buttons on it either – I don’t really need it to close and the lack of buttons or ties doesn’t bother me for some reason. I put on the pointless tab things inbetween the pockets because they cover the point of the dart, and because they’re delightfully random. I toyed with the idea of just making the sleeve cuff continuous and omitting the d-ring buckles, but I decided I kind of liked the industrial look and went for it, placket and all.

For the sleeve placket I decided to use the “magic” placket technique (I used this excellent tutorial) because it was my first ever placket and I thought this technique looked way easier than the Simplicity instructions and crazy shaped pattern piece. In retrospect, though, although the magic placket was simple, it was probably just as fiddly, and my fabric was a bit too thick to make it look elegant. It probably would have been safer to stick with the pattern. I’ll keep that technique in mind if I ever get around to making a cuffed shirtsleeve, though. Here you can kind of see the sleeve plackets:

I’m so glad I finally sewed up this jacket, and early enough in the season to get lots of wear out of it. It’s a great addition to not only my mini wardrobe, but also my whole wardrobe – I have a ton of things I can wear it with. It turned out pretty much exactly how I imagined it all that time ago. I am actually glad I procrastinated it until my skills had gotten better, though, or I might not have been able to fight through those pockets!

Here’s one last picture of the jacket with a sneak peak of my fourth item – the Thurlow shorts! Details soon.

With just a few days left in the contest, I’m so close to completing my mini wardrobe!  Just one shirt to go… It’s gonna be a race to the finish!


Here are the first two-fifths of my Pattern Review mini wardrobe – a mini-mini wardrobe, I guess you could call it. Or, you know, an outfit.


Hey, look, it’s pants!

Well, technically. I mean, they’re the easiest pants ever. No waistband, fly, zipper, buttons… just a foldover elastic waist. But they’ve got two legs, so I guess they qualify.

The pattern is the Tori Crop Pant from StyleArc. It’s a very easy pattern, so it seemed like a good way to dip my toe in the water of pantsmaking. I did actually make a muslin, but they fit pretty well right out of the box. Well, okay, here’s the deal: I don’t know that I’m the kind of person who’s willing to make a million muslins to eliminate all errant wrinkles and achieve the totally perfect fit. I think my goal here is to make pants that fit me as well as my best-fitting RTW pants. I’m just not a fit-fiddler, and I know that. I should probably have made a knock-knee adjustment, messed with the crotch a bunch, added more room in the bottom area… But all I did was give my thighs a tiny bit more room by adding a smidge to the inseam (I should have added more, though), and lowered the center front by 3/4 inch, tapering to nothing at the sides. Next time (cause I’m totally making these again) I’ll lower the whole waistline a little and give myself a bit more room in the thighs/butt, but these are totally wearable. Pants!

Some notes on the pattern: with StyleArc you have to choose the size when you order based on your measurements, and these are the size 10. StyleArc patterns are pretty minimal, like what you’d see in RTW manufacturing supposedly, so the pattern paper is substantial and the pattern markings are good, but the instructions are extremely brief. I actually could make no sense of the instructions for the leg vents, but I just constructed them how I thought they should work and it turned out fine. I’m not totally sold on the leg openings anyway – I maybe should have just sewn them up for a more current skinny-leg look. I can see myself playing with the hem finish on future versions (cuffed? smaller vents?). I do miss having pockets, though. I’m playing with the idea of adding some front pockets and a false fly to the next (regular denim) version, to create the illusion that they’re real pants and not just glorified leggings.

The yellowness of them has kind of grown on me, and I’m glad I went for it and used this fabric for pants. It’s a “bull denim” (which is apparently a dyed denim without variegation) with a lot of stretch. I wish it was just slightly heavier, but this pattern needs all that stretch to get them on over the hips without making them too gathered and poufy at the waist. As it is, they’re a bit of a wiggle to get on, but it works.

The first thing I put together to go with these pants turned out to be kind of perfect with them. The pattern is McCall’s 6513, a Palmer/Pletsch pattern I picked up last winter just cause I liked it. When I went digging through the stash for fabrics that went with yellow, I uncovered this very stretchy, thin, (probably) rayon-lycra knit that I found in the bargain bin at a local store right after I started sewing clothes, and put it away when I realised that I in no way had the skill to work with something this fiddly at that point. Now that I know so much more about sewing knits, I knew that it would need a pattern like this with a draped collar and sleeves so I wouldn’t have to do any neckline/armhole finishing. The doubled front from the crossover style was also great for this thin fabric.

Palmer/Pletsch patterns have tons of extra instructions and lines on the pattern pieces for fitting purposes – on the one hand, it’s somewhat useful, but on the other, it makes for rather confusing pattern marking. I sorted it out, but I’m not used to having so many random lines and dots on my pattern pieces! I did avail myself of the swayback adjustment line, but I did not use their bust adjustment lines. Instead I made a Slapdash Sewist style SBA by pinching out about an inch along the neckline of both front pieces, which I feel is more appropriate for a crossover v-neckline than the traditional cut-lines-from-bust-point-and-overlap method. I cut my usual size 10-top-to-12-bottom and made no other adjustments for size.

I liked the idea of the ruched sleeves, but I found that the elastic didn’t gather them as much as I wanted, and in no way brought them up to be 3/4 length as pictured. I could have unpicked the elastic, shortened the sleeves, and resewn the ruching with shorter elastic, but there was no unpicking elastic from this fabric without ripping it (ask how I know that), so I just cut off the sleeves right above the elastic, narrowed them a little, and hemmed. The elbow length sleeves are more appropriate for this mini wardrobe anyway. Overall this top is very long, but I didn’t shorten it at all – I like long tops and it’s great to cover up the top of the not-real-pants pants.

I do like this style a lot, and I think this top will get a lot of wear with other, non-yellow pants as well. I’ll likely make another one of these at some point – it’s great for all that thin squirrelly knit fabric I buy cause it’s pretty but hate to work with. Next time I may slash and spread the one side to create more side gathers that extend further down the side.

So, so far so good with the mini wardrobe. I have finished the jacket (except for the hardware – have to buy d-rings tomorrow), but I’m getting nervous about being able to finish shorts and a blouse in a week… Well, always onwards!


I generally like to participate in the Pattern Review contests, if only because nothing gets me sewing like a deadline. But I’ve sat out of the last several contests for various reasons (no time, seriously, being the main culprit this spring). As more of my time freed up at the end of summer, I went to check out which contests were running in the fall, and was rather disappointed – mini wardrobe? Ugh, that’s too much planning, I thought, and dismissed it out of hand. Then I started seeing other sewists writing about the benefits of planning outfits and sewing with a plan and… well, I started to come around to the idea.

The mini-wardrobe idea worm kept wiggling deeper, and then sort of collided with the making-pants worm and then they ate the hey-you’ve-got-this-yellow-denim-that’s-too-stretchy-for-a-coat notion, and suddenly I was googling paint programs that I could use to create a mini wardrobe storyboard and pillaging the stash for fabrics that go with yellow. So, yeah, I guess I’m making a mini wardrobe after all.

(This was the best I could do. Seriously, all you people who make crazy awesome storyboards with your fabric filling in the line drawings, what program are you using?)

My central, or key, item here is, of course, the yellow pants. Because if you make yellow pants, you’d sure better have at least a few things to wear with them, right? The Tori pants pattern was the freebie when I made my StyleArc pattern order a while ago, and, like this contest, I dismissed them at first. Was I seriously ever going to make a pair of cropped elastic waist pants? Well, as it turns out, yes, I was. They’re designed for super stretch wovens, which I realised are ideal for bike commuting – good range of motion on the bike, still presentable for work! And I figured as long as I make long enough shirts to wear with them, no one need know my dirty little elastic waist secret. I had a couple yards of very stretchy, lightweight yellow denim in the stash which I had ordered with the intention of making a coat, but when it arrived it was decidedly too lightweight for a coat and really seemed more appropriate for pants… so I decided to take the plunge!

The coordinating items just fell into place after that. First, I’d been planning to make the Simplicity 2443 jacket out of gray corduroy for about the last two years, and it just kept getting pushed aside. No more delays! – it will go perfectly with yellow pants. I also uncovered in a corner of my stash a very lightweight, very very stretchy knit with a funky gray/black/white geometric print that had just never found the right project. Enter McCall’s 6513, ideal for a light knit since the front is almost completely doubled and there’s no neckline finishing. Done! Another vague project rescued from the annals of planning history was a blouse with bust gathers made from a simple black and white dot cotton poplin. I was originally going to hack a pattern to get the bust gathering I wanted, but my procrastination paid off for once and Vogue released the perfect pattern last year (I’m going to change the sleeve to a slightly puffed, banded short sleeve, though). Finally, my plan to muslin the Thurlow pants pattern by making a (hopefully!) wearable pair of shorts got sucked into the mini wardrobe too, as another bottom to wear the tops with when I’m not in a yellow pants kind of mood. So there it is! And all from the stash, I might add! (Let’s just be proud of that and not consider that it might indicate my stash is way too extensive, shall we?)

I didn’t want to commit to this contest until I was relatively sure I could complete it, hence the mid-er, late!-month announcement. But so far I’ve completed the titular yellow pants as well as the drape-neck jersey top (reviews coming soon), and I’m nearly finished with the jacket, so I’m cautiously optimistic. All the same, I wouldn’t be surprised if either the blouse or the shorts mysteriously morph into a knit top in the last few days of the month… but you gotta aim high, right?

Bizarrely for a procrastinator, I hate unnecessary delay. For instance, all that faux dramatic music they insert before Heidi announces who’s out on Project Runway? Hate that. So I’ll just get right to it, shall I?

I tried to get the Orange Terror to select the winner somehow, but he was having none of it:

So I was forced to resort to the internets. Random number generator says:


Congratulations lloubb! I’ll be in touch to get your address!

Thanks to everyone for entering, and thank you so much for all your kind comments about the blog!! I’ve had such a great time doing it for the past year, and I’m definitely going to keep making stuff and telling you about it. Just try to stop me!

And for those of you who didn’t win, well, if you ever happen to find yourself on the central coast of California, just drop me a line and we’ll go to the crazy place together and gorge ourselves on 99-cent fabric!


I find myself needing to blog my way through a backlog of things I’ve made over the last several weeks  – an unusual circumstance, to say the least. I’m wearing this dress today, so I thought I may as well write it up!

I made this on a whim a couple weeks ago, and it was one of those rare things that I conceived, cut and completed in two days. I’d had this fabric for a while (it was part of an all-stripes order from Girl Charlee in the spring) but felt kind of ambivalent about any pattern I thought of for it. Then suddenly out of nowhere I thought of pairing it with McCall’s 6109, and I liked the idea so much I had to Make. It. Right. Now.

I had initially intended to make the crewneck version of this pattern, but when this stripe called its name I just had to do the cowl. I cut the bodice on the bias to play more with the stripe, and I cut the waistband on the crossgrain for the same reason. The fabric has equal four-way stretch, so that was fine (lesson learned!). What can I say, I have a thing for contrasting stripes. I was a little surprised with how the stripes change from one shoulder to the other (I have basically no spacial reasoning ability, so somehow I assumed they’d be diagonal on both shoulders), but it’s cool and I’m happy with it. I did attempt to reduce the depth of the cowl by taking a horizontal tuck that pitched the top of the pattern piece off the edge of the fold, narrowing the width of the neckline by a couple inches. I’m sure this isn’t the correct way to reduce a cowl, but I think it worked (though it now occurs to me that it removed more width from the facing than the cowl… hmmm).

I cut a 10 on top and in the skirt and a 12 in the waistband, though as it turned out I didn’t need  to. I wanted to have the side seams be the last thing to sew so I could take it in if necessary, so I constructed the whole front, the whole back, then sewed the shoulders and hemmed the armholes flat (so much easier) before sewing up the sides from armpit to hem. I did take the waist in a bit, since my fabric was just so stretchy. I lined the waistband with a random piece of white ITY in an effort to stabilize it a bit, but it could have used another layer even. My natural waist falls right in the middle of the giant midriff, which is fine except that then the thick gathered skirt seam hits at a weird place just below my waist in a somewhat unflattering fashion. Otherwise it’s a pretty good, very easy pattern.

Best of all, though, this dress is very, very comfortable. It also happily lands in that sweet spot between casual and dressy – nice enough to wear to the farmer’s market, then to work, then out to dinner (as I did today!) without feeling overdressed. And the nautical feel makes me smile. All in all, a nice late summer dress. My full pattern review is here.

In other news, I’ve (perhaps foolishly) started working on a mini wardrobe for the contest at Pattern Review this month, so more about that to come. It’s fairly ambitious, so we’ll see if my work schedule this month will give me enough time to finish it… In the meantime, there’s still time to enter my blogiversagiveaway! Leave a comment on the giveaway post before midnight tomorrow (Sunday) for a chance at some cheap fabric! Sorry, the giveaway has now ended. Thanks for entering!

As you may have noticed by now, I tend to be late for things. I can generally meet deadlines of the if-you-don’t-finish-this-dress-you’ll-be-naked variety, but I’m a terrible procrastinator and important dates tend to slip by me. So here we are, a week and some change past the one-year anniversary of my taking the plunge and starting this blog, and since I’m never one to pass up an opportunity for a celebration, even if I am one to let pass the actual day of the reason for said celebration, I’m having a giveaway anyway.

I want to say thank you to everyone who reads my ramblings, occasionally or frequently (I mean, as frequently as I write them, which is not very frequently), and thank you so much for all the kind words of encouragement or advice you’ve given me. I know I’m terrible about replying to comments (see above admission about procrastination and letting the moment pass), but every time the comment notifier pops up in my inbox it absolutely brightens my day. I really love this crazy sewing community and I’m so glad I’ve spent the last year(ish) being inspired by all of you, and hopefully occasionally inspiring you!

So for my first giveaway, I wanted to share some of the delightful weirdness I get from my somewhat local bizarro 99-cent fabric store. I would say that roughly 60-70% of my fabric comes from there, and I feel so lucky to have this resource nearby! So I’m going to send a little weird to someone who can’t stop by and dig through the piles (yes, there are literal piles) every few weeks, in the form of three pieces of fabric:

First, on the bottom is a yard and a half of a very dark navy blue cotton-lycra knit – it’s got a bit of weight to it and has good stretch and recovery and would make a very cozy long-sleeve tee or tunic (fall sewing, that’s what I’m supposed to be thinking about, right?) It’s pretty easy to work with and would be a good first knit experience for those of you who haven’t taken the plunge into sewing knit fabric yet! In the middle is a yard of the black and white border print that I used to make a simple elastic waist skirt last year – just add wide elastic and you’re practically done! And on top is three yards of a fun print woven (a burn test indicates poly content) that’s fairly light and crisp and would make a great blouse (Alma, anyone?) or a last-gasp of summer dress. I’m also including two of my go-to knit notions: a twin needle and a package of clear elastic.

If any of this strikes your fancy, leave a comment before midnight (my time, PDT) next Sunday the 16th. [Sorry, the giveaway has ended. Thanks to everyone who entered!] I’ll choose a comment at random and that person gets all of the above! And since the fabric wasn’t exactly pricey, I’m happy to ship worldwide. You don’t need to be a “follower” to enter (since I confess I still don’t use a blog reader and hope desperately that there are others out there who don’t either so I don’t feel like such a Luddite), but if subscribing’s your thing and you don’t already, by all means hit the follow button in the sidebar!

Thanks again for making my first year of blogging so fantastic!

Ah, another month gone, another (very slightly) late T-shirt of the Month post. Sigh. One of these months I’ll get it together. Maybe. Hey, I never have a problem actually sewing the shirt during actual month, I’m just a terribly slow poster. Honestly! And actually, deciding on this month’s shirt was a no-brainer for me as soon as Cindy at Cation Designs released a free pdf pattern for a dolman sleeve top. So cute! So easy! Only one pattern piece! And wouldn’t you know, conveniently sitting atop my mountainous stash pile was a slightly oddly-shaped yardish piece of mystery knit from the Crazy Fabric Store that I had grabbed without having the faintest idea what I was going to use it for. Well, some printing and cutting and a couple of podcasts later, I had a new top:

Seriously, this was the easiest top ever. No sleeves to set in! No double needle hems needed! I fit the front and back pieces easily onto my funky knit, and I cut the sleeve and hem bands from a big piece of black rayon knit that’s been waiting patiently for at least a year to be made into another boothigan (that’s a cardigan that I wear in the booth at work – black so when audience folks look up at the funny little window in the back of the theatre all they see is a floating head! Bwahahaha! No, really, I have to wear black in the booth). The neckband I cut out of the main fabric, ’cause I thought a black neckband might be overkill and not work as well with the lovely boatneck shape.

The pattern is very well done, and also it has to have the best markers for lining up the pages that I’ve ever seen. And check out who’s hanging out in the test square! (Seriously – go open the pattern pdf, it’s adorable.) I cut a size small on top and a medium below the arms and it fits well. I did cut the arm bands one inch longer than called for and still found them a little snug, but that’s probably because my black fabric wasn’t super stretchy. So go, get the pattern and make the easiest top you’ve made all year!

The only problem here is that I don’t like these pants with it – the white background of the knit is actually kind of an off-white, so it doesn’t quite go with the cool gray pants… but I don’t have any other pants that are even close to making sense with it. Which brings me to: I’m making pants this year! No, seriously, I’m sick of spending hours in fitting rooms cursing at my giant athletic thighs and my no-waist and the fact that clearly no other women are shaped like me so how can I possibly expect the clothing industry to sell pants that fit me! So making pants it is. I’m starting with cheater (elastic waist) pants, so look for those soon, as well as a one year blogiversary giveaway! (Yeah, guess what else passed while I wasn’t tending to the blog…) And in honor of Labor Day, I return to work on Tuesday (sadly ending my glorious summer break), but I vow to plow ahead with my big sewing plans regardless of how little time I might have… that usually works out well, right? Totally.