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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Yet Another Sweatshirt

I promise that one day, eventually, I'll make and blog about something other than jackets, coats, and sweatshirts. Today is just not that day. As I mentioned last week, I find sewing outerwear to be very satisfying.  So, as I had the pattern and I had the fabric, I made another sweatshirt. My little brother was the appreciative recipient of this most recent outerwear project.

I've decided this year I want to actually sew some everyday wardrobe items for my youngest brother. Over the years I've made him a couple of jackets, a few costume pieces, and countless pairs of PJ pants, but no regular everyday clothes, and this year I want to change that. Guys' clothing is a new challenge that I'd like to conquer, and my little brother has no complaints about being my test subject for this particular endeavor. 

Well, actually, he does have one complaint. It turns out that going outside to have his pictures taken in the snow is not my brother's idea of a relaxing Sunday afternoon. After a bit of coaxing though, he complied.

The sweatshirt is made out of the left over lining fabric from the camo jacket I made my brother a couple weeks ago. This fabric is soft and warm and my brother loves it! So, when a couple yards were leftover after making his jacket, I decided to make him a sweatshirt out of it.

Thankfully, I had a pattern already on hand for the project, Burda 7734. Yes, it's the same pattern I used to make both my brother's camo jacket and my hoodie. I made the jacket and hoodie using view A. For this sweatshirt I used view C. This pattern is very straightforward and easy to put together, and it produces decent results. However, something about the proportions of both the jacket and this sweatshirt look off to me. So, if I use it again, I think I'll make a few adjustments to the length for a more balenced looking final garment. 

Despite my opinions of the proportions of the pattern,  I'm calling this project a success. My brother put it on as soon as it was finished, and tells me it is plenty warm! Warm enough to make standing out in the snow for pictures a bearable, if not favorite, experience.

Now, what shall I sew next for this brother of mine?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Very Soft Gray Hoodie

Outerwear might just be my favorite everyday garment to sew. It presents challenges and learning opportunities, and one jacket or coat will get worn more often than a single dress or shirt would. Thus, I find outerwear very worthwhile to make - especially when you happen upon the perfect fabric as I did with this hoodie.

The fabric is a heathered gray french terry that I found in the bargain fabrics at Wal-Mart. It is literally the softest french terry I have ever felt! Originally I bought two yards of this fabric and about a yard of that became a shirt for my sister. Then I decided this fabric also needed to be turned into something for me. It was just so soft and wonderful to work with!  So, back to Wal-Mart I went, and another yard of fabric came home with me.

I needed a new hoodie, as my old favorite hoodie died this year on the World Race, so a hoodie is what I knew this fabric needed to become. 

However, just a plain gray hoodie was not very appealing to me, so I decided to make it a little more colorful by using scraps of a teal and gray striped knit (left over from this shirt) for some fun contrasting details.

The hem band, sleeve cuffs, hood facing, pocket bindings, and shoulders are all made out of the teal and gray knit and I couldn't be happier with the result!

I made this hoodie out of the same pattern I used to make my brother's new camo jacket, just with a few adjusts for fit and my personal preferences. I added around three inches of length to the body of the jacket, raised the armscye slightly and lowered the sleeve cap, widened the shoulders by about an inch (which I probably didn't need to do), drafted a new pocket pattern, and cut the shoulders of the hoodie separate from the torso to accommodate my contrasting fabric. The resulting garment fit perfectly and was just what I wanted it to be!

Soft, pretty, and warm enough for some of the mild winter days we've had this week. This hoodie has already been worn plenty and I think it will last me for several years to come!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Camo Jacket Replacement

It could be argued that the most treasured thing I've ever made was a camo jacket for my younger brother. He would wear it all winter long, and it would rarely be put away in the summer. Then He outgrew it while I was gone this year. He eventually realized that he just couldn't wear the jacket anymore, so he hung it up in his closet. And it became common knowledge that I would be making him a new camo jacket once I returned home.

Now, the first order of business with this new jacket was to find the proper lining fabric. Joann's still carries the digital camo twill I used to make the original camo jacket, so picking up more of that was no problem The lining was harder to come by. 

The lining (and cuffs and hem band) of the original jaket was a remnant of some ridiculously soft and warm fleece backed sweater knit. I've seen other fleece backed sweater knits, but none that measured up to this one. That lining was one of my brother's very favorite things about his old jacket, and he specifically wanted the exact same lining in his new jacket. That was a problem.  The old lining came into my stash by way of a trash bag full of fabric a friend gave to me when they were cleaning out their sewing room. Thus I had no clue where I could find more of that lining fabric! 

Online fabric shopping (something I rarely do) commenced as I pondered the issue of the lining. I looked at fleece backed sweater knit after fleece backed sweater knit online until I happened upon this one on Fashion Fabrics Club. It was a wool blend sweater knit bonded to a fleece backing. I knew it wouldn't be exactly the same as the old lining, but I thought it just might fit the bill as it would be soft and warm. Well, it arrived in the mail, my brother felt it and approved! We had found a suitable lining, the jacket could now be made!

I used Burda 7734 for the jacket because it looked like exactly what I wanted for this jacket. It was a great base pattern, but I should have made a couple changes to it. First, I should have gone up a size larger than my brother's measurements to accommodate the lining (the pattern is for an unlined jacket). Second, I should have lengthened the body of the jacket by a couple inches as it's almost too short for my little brother! The jacket fits my brother ok as is, but I don't foresee it lasting him more than one winter with as fast as he's growing. So when I sew him a replacement in about a year, I'll apply those changes.

Now there was one pattern alteration I made while sewing this jacket, and it worked fabulously! Wide shoulders tend to run in my family, so to accommodate that trait in this growing teenage boy I added pleats to the back shoulders. These allowed the jacket to "stretch" in the shoulders, giving my brother a good range of motion and making the jacket comfortable to work in. 

My brother is thrilled with this jacket and tells me it's even better than the last one! That is just what this seamstress big sister likes to hear!

 And I'd say he looks pretty good in it too :)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Copy Cat Coat

I saw it in a movie. The perfect coat. The one I just had to have. It was green (My favorite color!), long, full skirted, and had the most awesome full sleeves, perfect for wearing over shirts and dresses with fun sleeves. Yes, in Cambodia I watched Age of Adeline for the first time and, while sweating in the Cambodian heat, I fell in love with Adeline's green New Year's Eve coat. I decided then and there that I would have to replicate it one day . . . eventually.

photo source
Then eventually came, and this coat got moved up in my sewing queue. While in Malaysia I found out about a challenge called "Designin' December", hosted by Linda of "Nice Dress! Thanks, I Made It! The challenge is to find a designer garment you would love to own, but can't for whatever reason, and make one like it yourself! (In the month of December). As I would actually be home and reunited with my sewing machine in December, I decided I would take part in the challenge! All I had to do was find the garment I wanted. Or so I thought.

After looking through tons of pretty designer dresses, and wishing I had time to make them all, I couldn't decide what I wanted my "Designin' December entry to be. Then I remembered this coat - could I make it as my entry? Did it count as designer made? Well, after some digging on Pinterest, I discovered that the Age of Adeline green coat was indeed designer made! Gucci, fall 2013. Thus, I had a deadline for making my coat - December 31, 2017. All that was left to do was to go home, be reunited with my sewing machine, and dig through my fabric stash for some coat weight wool.

A few weeks later I returned home and digging through my fabric stash commenced. Well, my stash appeared to be short on green coat weight wool, or any coat weight wool for that matter, but I didn't let that deter me! I figured that a mid-weight wool flat lined with a cotton flannel (found in my stash) would work just as well as a heavy weight wool for my coat, so I selected a gray wool from my bin of wool yardage and plowed forward with my coat project.

I made peace with the fact that my coat would not be green like Adeline's, but I still didn't really want a gray coat. No, my coat was going to be a pretty color. Blue to be exact, because that was the color of Rit dye I happened to find lurking in my sewing room. (I have no recollection of when I bought this dye or what I bought it for). So, one Sunday evening I dyed my gray wool blue, and I was all ready to start on my coat! Until I realized I'd forgotten to dye the 100% silk sheet (Also found in my stash)that I'd intended to use for the lining of my coat. So I had to make a trip to Hobby Lobby for a second bottle of dye. 

Once that white silk sheet was dyed a brilliant blue, I was really ready to start on my coat, but starting got delayed once again. First I had to make some Christmas dresses. Well, this delay gave me time to think about how I wanted to construct my coat, and I decided that I wanted a quilted lining for extra warmth. So, I bought some cotton quilt batting and my planned coat became 4 layers thick - wool, flatlined with cotton flannel, followed by batting quilted to a silk sheet.

This would make my coat rather bulky, but quite warm.

Finally, Christmas dresses, and everything else that needed to be finished by Christmas, were done, and I could really start on my coat! I began by quilting my lining. That step took longer than everything else I had to do on this coat put together! First I pinned the sheet to the batting,

 Then I sewed. And sewed. And sewed. While watching Harry Potter. (Something had to make sewing a bunch of straight lines less boring!) My quilting is nothing special, just a bunch of straight lines spaced 3-4 inches apart, but it does its job!

After taking up the dining room table for a day to quilt my lining, I was finally able to cut my coat out! I only had 2.5 yards of my wool, so getting all my pattern pieces out of it was tricky - but it happened! Just barely.

The collar, facings, and pocket welts were cut out of a coordinating wool blend. I acquired about 3/4 a yard of this deliciously soft, subtle, plaid fabric in Romania for about $1.25. I had no clue what I was going to do with it at the time, but I knew I had to have it! After I dyed the wool for the main body of my coat I discovered that my Romanian wool remnant would make the perfect accent piece! 

I'd intended to hodge-podge together a pattern for my coat, but it turned out I didn't have to do that! (Which shortened the time it took to make this coat considerably!) While in the midst of Christmas dress sewing, I happened upon a Vogue pattern sale, and found the perfect pattern - Vogue 8875, a 50's reprint pattern. It had just the shape I was looking for, without being a fabric hog.

All I had to do to make the pattern match my vision for my coat was extend the front coat pieces to make them cross over each other, rather than meeting in the center front, change the collar from a shawl collar to a notched collar, and slightly widen the sleeves. 

Pattern alterations made, the coat came together incredibly quickly! In what felt like no time at all, I was pinning, and then hand sewing, the facings and hems in place.

This coat is so thick the thimble had to come out for the hand sewing!

The resulting coat turned out even better than I thought it would!

It's soft, and warm, and pretty!  And it matches my original inspiration perfectly!

 Well, almost perfectly. I did make one slight change (other than the color) from the original.

Pockets. The original Gucci coat didn't have pockets. What is a coat without pockets?!?! Of course my coat needed pockets - so I added welt pockets. 

And I certainly don't regret it one bit!

My coat is exactly what I wanted it to be, and it should last me for many winters to come!

I am so glad that I actually got it made!

Now I just need to make or find gloves and a hat to go with it!

Do you have a project brewing on your mind that you can't wait to get started on? 

Friday, December 29, 2017

1930's Flannel and Velvet Christmas Dresses

Plaid, vintage-inspired, Christmas dresses. I had been looking forward to this project for months!

Whenever I had down time on the World Race, it wasn't unusual for me to daydream about future sewing projects. So, of course, I planned Christmas dresses for my mom, my sister, and myself, back in June or something - when I was sweating in Africa (a place I actually loved, and would love to return to one day) and dreaming of colder times.

I dreamed up green plaid Christmas dresses for the girls in my family. Green plaid variations of Simplicity 1587, the pattern I used to make my map dress.

 As you may have noticed by now, however, Our Christmas dresses are not green plaid, nor are they made out of my map dress pattern. Black Friday sales happened.

On Black Friday, my mom, sister, and I went to Joann's with the intention to buy a green plaid for our Christmas dresses. (All apparel fabric was 60% off that day!) There was green plaid to be had, but there were also lots of other pretty plaids. My mom and I fell in love with this gray and navy cotton flannel plaid. It would make beautiful and warm Christmas dresses! We just had to convince my little sister it was the perfect fabric. That proved easier said than done.

 Gray flannel was not what my little sister had in mind for her Christmas dress. Oh no, not at all. This young lady has some very definite opinions on what her clothes ought to look like - as she should at age 13. Gray flannel was just not going to cut it. So she started browsing other, prettier, fabrics, and found the perfect compromise - Navy blue velvet. It matched navy in the plaid and brought the flannel up to "Christmas dress worthy." Thus, we left the store that afternoon with yards and yards of gray and navy flannel for the dresses themselves, a bit of navy velvet for little details on the dresses, and patterns to make the dresses from.

Yes, patterns. Simplicity patterns were on sale, so we thought we might as well look through the pattern books to see if there were any patterns begging to be turned into flannel and velvet Christmas dresses. Right away my mom found one - Simplicity 0504, a new 1930's reprint pattern. She could easily picture this pattern as her Christmas dress, except for 2 things - She wasn't a huge fan of the neckline, or the sleeves. Well, I knew I'd be able to re-draft the neckline for her easily, and the sleeves wouldn't be a problem either. You see, Simplicity also re-released a 1930's sleeve pattern. That's right, a pattern just for sleeves. Simplicity 8506 has patterns pieces for 8 different 1930's era sleeves that you can add to any blouse or dress! Talk about a handy pattern to have around! My mom picked sleeve E, and I was all set to make her Christmas dress. 

My sister and I had a harder time deciding what we wanted for our Christmas dresses, nothing in the pattern book looked quite right to us, but the following week we got it all figured out. When we accidentally found ourselves at the American girl store, my little sister saw Kit's new Christmas dress, and requested that her's be made in the same style. As Kit is from the 1930's the same era as my mom's pattern, that was perfect! So, after a bit of pattern combining, altering, and drafting, a dress like Kit's is just what my sister got!

That just left me. What did I want for my Christmas dress? I wasn't sure, but since my mom and sister were both getting 1930's inspired dresses, I decided that's what I wanted too! So I picked Simplicity 8247, a 1930's reprint that was already in my stash. I combined looks A and C for my dress and wound up with something I really like! And that's a sentiment my mom and sister both echo with their dresses!

These dresses are soft and warm - perfect for wearing to church on a snowy Christmas eve to celebrate our Savior's birth!

We had a wonderful Christmas together as a family - and I hope you and your family had the same! Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!