A Moto Jacket, part of a..capsule wardrobe?!?

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When Pattern Review announced their Wardrobe Sudoku Contest, I said, Never!  10 garments in two months that all have to coordinate with each other and shoes and accessories? Too mind-boggling for me. So I told myself I’d play along and use only fabric from my stash.

Well, the phrase, ‘never say never’ now clearly applies to me. I suppose my reluctance to join the fun had to do with the fact that I throw a hissy-fit whenever someone suggests I might sew with a plan (SWAP). I prefer to sew on a whim! But I’ve also secretly envied those who have used their sewing skills to achieve their dream capsule wardrobe too, which is basically what the Sudoku Challenge is all about.

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Here’s my completed Sudoku wardrobe.

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The grid shows ten combinations that work together, but the truth is, there are many, many more. The Mimi G jacket is one of the key pieces because it goes with everything, so it’s an accessory on the grid. I’ve wanted to sew this jacket for a long time. It’s a cool girl thing, you know? And this one is designed by Mimi G, no less! Definitely on my sewing bucket list, but it took this contest to get me to push through.

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I’ll wear it open, closed, over jeans, skirts and dresses. Here it is with other pieces in my Sudoku wardrobe.

The pattern; Simplicity 8174 is cute, but it’s not an easy make, to say the least. It’s a well designed pattern, but very complicated. It has a side zipper, back shoulder insets, epaulets, a waistband with carrier and belt detail, and inset zippered pockets, and it’s lined. There are lots of pattern pieces to manage, but once I got them labeled clearly, things started to work better. Here’s a shot of the back waistband, and the back shoulder panels. Cool details, eh?IMG_5094 2

I used brushed twill from my stash and cut my usual size, comparing my measurements to those on the envelope. It turned out to be perfect! Challenges….Construction took awhile, and required my full concentration. For me, the shoulder panels were the most frustrating part. They’re faced with another piece of fabric which gives them stiffness and makes them look cool when they’re top stitched. But, I found the instructions confusing. Mimi G’s video on U tube saved the day. In fact, I used it constantly through the process. It really helped, although I did find a few challenges even with that. She constantly says, do the same thing to the other side. That works for everything but the front bodice which has a right and left side.  In error, I applied the facings to both sides, but in reality, you have to wait on the left side until later in the process so that you can insert the front angled zipper correctly. So, I had a few stitches to rip out.

I did cheat on the belt carriers on the top epaulets and on the waist band. I could not get my thick fabric to turn, so I just winged it, making carriers without turning them.  My fingers were grateful.

This complex pattern had so many twists and turns, I had to turn off my new binge-watching obsession, Bloodline, so that I could concentrate. It was worth it though. I know this jacket will get worn alot, a key piece in my spring wardrobe.

Check out the contest over on Pattern Review.com for some great inspiration. I just love seeing how everyone puts together a wardrobe, and many are only using their stash like me. One of my favorite wardrobes is Elizabeth’s of Elizabeth Made This, so inspiring! Check out her fabulous makes on her blog.

My wardrobe is done and posted now,(my denim ruffled skirt is one item) and it feels good to have it behind me. Over the next few days, I’ll do some posts on my other makes, including two statement sleeve tops, a safari jacket, an alder shirt dress and a long blue cardigan. I stayed with blues and neutrals, which seems to be all I have in my stash these days!

Will I always sew with a plan? I doubt it….no new leaf being turned over here. How about you? Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!!

A Sparkle Tweed Coat for Spring

 

img_2982-2I didn’t know I was a fan of sparkle tweed until I saw this Kate Spade coat. njmu7301-black-d7d16d49

In person, this tweed is gorgeous, and when I saw the coat at Saks I became a serious fan. I love how Kate Spade designs clothes that feel vintage yet fresh. And those shoes…!!

img_3014The photo above shows my coat buttoned up all the way like the  Kate Spade version, but I think I like it unbuttoned better.

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I found my sparkle tweed at Mill End Store last fall. It’s a wool blend that’s warm but lightweight enough for Spring, perfect for my Kate Spade knock off. The pattern I used is Butterick 5468, an older fast and easy pattern that could be a good starting point if you’ve never made a coat before. It isn’t in print anymore, but it’s available on Etsy and Ebay. It’s such a basic style, you could probably substitute B6107 or B6385 and get the same look.

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I love the in-seam pockets on the longer versions of this coat.

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I modified the pattern by lengthening the sleeves to full length. The Kate Spade sleeves are 3/4 length which is really cute, but less than practical in blustery Oregon. I also fully lined the coat, even though the pattern doesn’t call for it. I added a double faced tie at the waist too.

It’s an easy pattern, without alot of bells and whistles which is perfect for highlighting a special fabric like mine. As usual, the biggest challenge was the plaid matching. Grrr. I had to cut the sleeves twice to get them right. Fortunately, I had extra fabric, a rarity for me!

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I like the fact that this coat looks manish and boxy without a belt but more feminine and retro with one. Two looks from one pattern, Yay!

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img_2951What do you think, belted and girlish or unbelted and mannish? The Kate Spade version is a little fuller below the waist, I think, and the shorter sleeves have a bit more of a bell shape. Next time??? I think my version is close enough to enjoy, and reasonably priced as well (LOL).

In spite of the fact that it’s cold here, with the threat of snow in the forecast, I am happily transitioning into Spring sewing. I’ve organized my stash of linen and cotton and will be working on those sorts of projects going forward.  Out with the wools, in with the linens!! Have you transitioned into Spring?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

A Cardigan for Early Spring:McCalls 6802

img_1938Yes, I know the title of this post is optimistic. Sure, there are several months of cold weather between me and Spring, but I can dream, can’t I?

This knit fabric is so soft, I knew at first sight I had to make a sweater-y wrap from it. This new cardigan is a perfect seasonal transition piece: it’s as cozy as a coat, but as soft and light as a sweater. I’ve had this knit in my stash for several years (!!). You know how it goes..sometimes you love a fabric so much, you can’t bear to cut into it.I’m glad I finally settled on this cardigan though, becuase I’ve worn it constantly since I finished it.img_1876I am a big fan of any garment that has a hood. They’re so useful when battling the elements of course, but also just to keep the chill off my neck. So the fact that McCall’s 6802 had one was a big selling point for me.

m6802_aThis loose-fitting cardigan could not be easier to make! It isn’t lined and the sleeves are cut as part of the bodice. So easy! I was able to finish it in about 3 hours. I did make one modification though. The pattern is designed to have an unlined hood with the wrong side showing. Although I like both sides of this fabric, I wanted the inside of the hood to provide contrast, so I cut a duplicate  of the hood and the front band pieces to use as a facing.

img_1968Not only does the lining provide contrast, but the facing makes the hood  warmer too. The sizing on this pattern is generous.  I cut a size 8 (the smallest size), but it was still too big, so I had to take in the seams until it fit. Also, the pattern doesn’t call for a front closure and, although I love the oversized look of it when worn open, I’ll likely wear it with a belt to keep it from becoming a parachute in the wind. If that gets tiresome, I’ll probably just add a couple of buttons down the front.

img_1900Because the cardigan is unlined, I finished the seams with my serger.A note about the sleeves: I like rolling them up a bit when I wear them, and I forgot to take photos of them unrolled. So, just so you know, they are loose and about three-quarter length, cut ‘kimono’ style. img_1947My style is pretty casual these days, so I think this cardigan will be a great addition to my wardrobe. I like the weight of this knit. It’s not too heavy, but warm, so it should be great to wear outside when the weather improves just a little. This fabric is a cat hair magnet though! Hmmm, a certain feline is going to have to stay away from me when I wear it. The colors are great though – -Not only do they blend with Dustin’s fur, but the earthy tones have just a pop of warmth that makes me feel cozy when I wear them.

Even though there’s alot of cold weather ahead, I’m feeling the urge to sew with Spring fabrics…crisp cottons and linens, maybe even some silk. But do I have anything planned? Not so much. I seem to be enjoying ‘sewing on a whim’ these days, and working through my stash. When do you transition into Spring sewing? Is now the time, or am I too early?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

2016: Top Five Hits

1Hi All! It’s almost time to ring in the new year, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to review my top five makes of 2016.

Looking back at my sewing projects always makes me a little nervous, because I can’t bear to face the facts. Sometimes the makes that are the most fun to finish or the most time consuming, are not the ones I love to wear (sigh). They hang in my closet, lonely and ignored. Huh. But without further analysis, here they are….my top five of 2016.

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  1. This little coat:  This topper makes it into the top five because I wore it more than any other make this year! It was so versatile, more than I expected. I wore it constantly. The sewing pattern is great too….Butterick 5927, a new favorite.

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2. The linen and lace dress – – Well, of course I love it. It’s blue, it has statement sleeves and lace trim. This dress made me a fan of clothes with simple lines. I love to wear it.img_8499

3. This coat: OMG, it’s so warm! The stretch wool…the quilted collar…love. To make things even better, when I step into Anthropologie wearing it, the girls that work there swoon, the ultimate compliment. It was supposed to inspire me to rake leaves, but that didn’t happen.

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4. This blouse: Well, because it’s blue. Need I say more?

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5. This poncho: Okay, it had to make the list because wearing it makes me so happy. Yes, fringing it was a nightmare, but the end result made this poncho such a wardrobe stand- out. I have a ‘boho’ moment every time I put it on, something I sorely need.

Honorable mentions:

I was obsessed with denim this year too, so I just have to mention these ‘makes ‘. I didn’t wear them quite as much as I expected though (not sure why?), so I won’t give them ‘top five’ status.

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1. This button up denim skirt: What fun this was to make! The top stitching, the ‘jeans’ buttons up the front…my favorite things.

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2. This denim shirt dress: I love a good shirt dress, and I felt so great when I finished this one! I also learned about snaps. They look great, and you also get to pound them in…If you haven’t tried it, do!

There were a few misses in 2016, but who wants to talk about those? Overall, I had alot of fun at my sewing machine, which is the true test of success for me. I even made my first pair of jeans.

But the best part of 2016 was meeting all of you. I love our community and our conversations. You and your makes are a constant source of inspiration and joy for me. I want to thank you for visiting here and for being a part of my life.

Here’s to an even better 2017! And thanks to Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow for encouraging us to celebrate a fabulous year with our Top Five Makes.

Happy New Year, and thanks for stopping by!

A plaid and leather ‘duster’ for fall

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Hi all! Wearing a coat in the fall is a no-brainer, but finding the perfect one can be a bit tricky. There are days when it’s cool but not cold and wool is too much, but a summer jacket isn’t enough. That’s when a duster comes in handy!

‘Duster’ is an odd word for a topper, and a friend questioned me about why I used it, so, I looked it up. The original dusters were full-length, light-colored canvas coats worn by horsemen to protect their clothing from trail dust. Well, since I haven’t been on a horse in years, who knows why duster came to be such a catch-all term for me. I use it pretty liberally for any knee length topper that is more than a blazer, but not quite heavy enough to be called a coat.

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My duster is  made from a plaid cotton blend, that is lined in silk and trimmed with pleather at the collar and cuffs. I’ve had the fabric in my stash for awhile. It languished there, forgotten and unloved because I didn’t quite know what to do with it. I love plaid, but sometimes, it’s a bit too stiff looking for my taste. But a recent sewing room ‘re-org’ brought it to my attention again, and woudn’t you know it? I’d stored it in box with a remnant of textured ‘pleather’ (fake leather). Inspiration!

The pattern I used for my duster is Butterick 6382, a semifitted lined jacket with neckline, pocket, sleeve and length variations. I chose version D, a knee length coat with pockets and a collar.

 

I cut the pattern as designed with a few modifications:

  1. The coat’s front bodices meet at the middle but don’t close. I extended the front bodice pieces by an inch and a half so that they would overlap then added buttonholes and buttons.
  2. Because my fabric is a bit tame I livened it up with some textured ‘pleather’ for contrast. The pocket is trimmed with a 1′ band.img_8608
  3. I added 3″ pleather cuffs to the sleeeves.
  4. I cut the collar from ‘pleather’ and skipped the interfacing.

The pattern was pretty easy to sew, and the instructions were great. Of course, the plaid matching took a bit of effort, but that’s all on me for choosing plaid in the first place! The duster is a-line, and the shaping is accomplished by long bodice darts in the front and back. The most difficult part of the project was the additon of the trim. Since I chose pleather, this was a bit challenging.

What I learned: Pleather does not like to bend. Well, I thought that was okay because I could shape it by pressing it. Ha!  My first attempt at low heat resulted in a MELT DOWN, a mess of damaged plastic that almost ruined my iron. Yes, I did use a pressing cloth, but you have to be really, really careful. I eventually discovered that it could be coaxed into shape by using my fingers and a corner press for the collar. (This required a bit of patience). Also, my pleather remembered every pin prick, so I used fusible seam tape to secure pockets before stitching them in place.

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In case you were wondering, this is not a leaf-raking coat, even though someone I live with probably wishes it was. Ha! Frankly, I’m not sure about this make. Yes, I’m glad I did it because it pushed me to learn more about sewing with ‘pleather’ which was fun. I guess I’m not wild about this look or these colors on me. I do like how the duster feels when you wear it though, probably because of the silk lining. Maybe I should add two more pockets at chest level to give the duster a bit more style?  Or maybe it’s the shape? Belted, or unbelted?

Opinions welcome!

I’d love to know if any of you have experienced a pleather melt down as I did? And any ideas on how you can get the stuff to bend and mold? Yes, it’s a challenging fabric, but I’m dying to use it again, maybe for a skirt or jacket. Tips and advice is welcome!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

Vogue 8346: A coat just in time for Spring

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It’s sunny and warm in Portland today. Yet, I’m posting about a heavy winter coat! Yes, timing is everything, and mine isn’t impeccable, but here goes. I started this coat before Christmas, and just finished it because I worked on it in sporadically. So, here I am, wearing a wool coat when it’s sixty degrees outside. Of course, the weather here is a fickle friend, so it might be ‘bundle up’ weather tomorrow (is it evil to wish it would get cold again?). In any event, after all this work, this coat will be worn, no matter how hot it makes me!IMG_7948 (1)

This wool was purchased last year, and I loved it so much (and spent so much on it, LOL) I dithered a bit (actually a lot) before getting the nerve to cut it. I got all angsty over the choice of pattern, how to line it, whether I really needed to underline..(blah, blah, blah). Basically I was procrastinating. I do this whenever I contemplate a big project. Honestly, I drive myself crazy. Anyway, the weave of this wool was so beautiful, I couldn’t resist buying it from the Mill End Store when wool was on sale. I felt a little guilty as I splurged so I scrimped a bit on yardage, and wouldn’t you know? Now I wish I’d bought more. Once I started sewing it, I knew just how special it was. The weight, the weave, even the smell of this wool is heavenly (yes, I am weird). A long coat from it would have been so nice. Do overs, please?

The pattern I used for this coat is Vogue 8346, a classic style, with a bit of a flare.

Because my height almost qualifies me for petite status (only 5′ 4″ on a good day), I avoid styles with a lot of volume. Still, I loved the style of this coat but worried I’d look as though I was drowning in fabric.

So, I made a test coat from corduroy. This was a good move, as I realized after sewing only a few seams that the amount of flare on the design was too much for me. So I ripped it apart, recut the bodice pieces, tapering the flare a bit more, then tried again. That did the trick. Here’s my modified flare:

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I learned a valuable lesson from this process. The corduroy test version of my coat was great, but when I started working with the wool, I realized the drape of the two fabrics was very different. The thick wool made that little bit of flare seem quite exaggerated compared to the corduroy. So, I had to modify a bit more. All in all though, making the test coat was worth doing, as I learned a lot about the fit of the coat. The shoulders were in the right place and not too narrow, (no adjustment needed, yay), the waist was too long for me (raised it a half inch), and the sleeves were too full for me. Nothing too traumatic, but good to know.

The details: I underlined each piece to give the coat’s structure the support it needed to look crisp. This is not hard, but is time consuming, but well worth the effort. (For tips on underlining, take a look at House of Pinhero’s Peacoat Sew Along. In fact, just have fun looking around at all of her posts!) I used a polka dot silk for the lining, which feels like a dream. I highly recommend finding something luscious for the lining…you deserve it after working so hard on a coat, am I right?

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I added very thin shoulder pads to support the sleeve cap and an extra row of buttons because I love the ‘military’ look they add.

And, that’s about it!

IMG_7892The truth is, sewing a coat isn’t that hard, so who knows why I dithered around so much about this one? The challenge was the fit, I guess. Also, a coat with lining and underlining is a serious commitment of time and energy. But why not just jump in? Next time, I will. Sewing a coat is time well spent. I know I’ll wear this one again and again.

Do you dither around before starting a coat like I do? And what have you experienced when making a toile, (test garment) out of a fabric with a different drape? Thumbs up or down?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!