Thursday, September 27, 2018

Hack - A - Jacket

I promise I really do listen to the sermon and worship Jesus at church on Sunday mornings. I even take notes and can tell you what the sermons from the past month have been about! But. . . I also look at people's clothes, and consider how I could make certain items for myself. About 3 or 4 weeks back, while we were having a burst of "faux fall" weather (before our most recent heatwave), many of the ladies at church were wearing cute fall-ish jackets and sweaters. There was one jacket in particular that caught my eye. It was a mid-thigh length cotton twill jacket, that looked rather standard, typical, "fall jacket" from the back. The front however, the front made this jacket stand out to me. It was a loose and flowy "waterfall" style. I loved the overall structured, yet soft, look of this jacket and decided I had to recreate it! I casually surveyed the jacket on its wearer during church, and when I got home I began to formulate my plan.

Clearly I would need to combine a few patterns to make this jacket, as I'd never seen a jacket matching this one before, let alone a pattern. I just had to figure out which patterns - thankfully the September Winter Wear Designs Blog Tour played right into my hand for this! This month the blog tour is a Hack-a-Thon! The other bloggers and I each got to mash up and change up ("hack") whatever Winter Wear patterns we wanted to, in order to make things that don't quite resemble the original pattern. This is right up my alley, and just what I needed for my jacket plan!

So, all I had to do to find my patterns was head to the Winter Wear website, but first I made a Pinterest detour to see if I could find a picture of a jacket similar to my Sunday morning inspiration. I wanted a picture to refer to as I searched for patterns with the general shapes I needed for this hack-a-jacket project.

On Pinterest I found a jacket resembling the one from church, I took stock of the general shape, began to think of what pattern pieces I would need, then headed to the Winter Wear pattern shop to find those pattern pieces.

Clearly, the most striking part of the jacket was the waterfall front, so I started there. Winter Wear has a waterfall front add on (meant to be paired with the Phresh Blazer pattern), which was just what I needed!

Front taken care of, next I needed to figure out what pattern base I would put it on. The blazer the waterfall add-on was meant for didn't have the shape I needed for my jacket, so I did a bit more looking. Eventually, I decided the Women's Button Up Top pattern, with it's back yoke and princess seams, was just what I needed. 

Finally, I decided it would be nice to add a hood as well, so for that I used the hood pattern from the Provence Pea Coat.

With the patterns thus decided on and acquired (Thanks Suzanne!), I began my pattern mashing and hacking. Pattern hacking is when you alter a pattern to get a different look from the original pattern design. Pattern mashing is when you put together more than one pattern to make a garment. For this jacket, I did a bit of both.

I began by altering the center back panel. First, I added 10" to the length, so the back of the jacket would come down nearly to my knees, rather than ending at my hip. I also decided I wanted a center back hem vent. To accommodate this, I added a seam allowance and cut the center back panel as 2 different panels with a seam down the middle, rather than one panel cut on the fold. I also added an extra rectangle of fabric for the hem vent to the very bottom of that new center back seam.

With the center back pattern piece "hacked" to match my vision, I worked my way around to the front of the jacket, adding length to each panel. I wanted the jacket to be shorter in the front than the back, so I slightly angled my new hemline up as I went from panel to panel.

Center back to side back, side back to side front, side front to center front. Where I had added 10" to the center back, I only added about 4" to the center front.

When I got to the center front, I moved on from pattern hacking and began pattern mashing. To give my jacket the waterfall front that had originally sparked my imagination, I omitted the Button Up Top center front panel and replaced it with the Phresh Waterfall Add-On pattern piece. I added a bit of length to the waterfall pattern piece to match the length I'd added to all the other panels, and my waterfall front was good to go.

Pattern pieces all fixed up, I was ready to cut my jacket out! In my stash I found a piece of cotton twill, the perfect weight and drape for the jacket. There was only one problem - it was white. White clothes and I don't get along, I'm just too clumsy and messy. So, I dyed the white twill purple - a much more Alyssa-friendly color that matches multiple items in my wardrobe! (Such as the Double Take Tank shown in these pictures, another WWD pattern!)

Continuing with my pattern mashing, I skipped cutting out the collar and collar stand from the Button Up Top pattern, and cut out the hood and hood band from the Provence Pea Coat pattern instead. I also cut out a set of inseam pockets - no pattern used for those.

I constructed the jacket using mostly flat felled seams for extra durability and a beautiful interior finish. Where I didn't use felled seams (such as the sleeves) I used french seams. The one exception to this was the top of the pockets.

The pockets themselves are made with french seams, just like the sleeves, but I left the top of the pockets raw, because I had a plan for the waistline of my jacket. I wanted a drawstring. Thus, I added a grommet to the upper corner of each pocket, through the outside of the jacket. 

I then sewed a piece of twill tape all along the waistline on the inside of the jacket, ending just past the grommets.

This formed a casing for my drawstring and encased the raw edges at the top of the pockets.

I threaded a linen cord through the casing, added black plastic cord stops at either end, and there I had it - a drawstring to give me some waist definition in this otherwise loose and flowy jacket.

I used the sleeve pattern directly from the Button Up Top pattern and made no changes. The sleeves were perfect for my jacket just as they were. My sleeve plackets however, didn't turn out quite perfect. Honestly, those sleeve plackets were probably the hardest part of the whole jacket, but I had fun dressing them up with jeans rivets and finishing my cuffs with heavy-duty button snaps. 

The hood itself was very easy to construct, the only tricky part was figuring out how to neatly attach it to the waterfall front panels, since the neckline didn't really end anywhere. After a bit of thought and messing around, it turned out decent.

The entire jacket actually turned out better than decent, I love it!

It was so much fun to figure out how to make it from three patterns that didn't at all resemble my end goal.

The end result is incredibly satisfying, and just what I'd hoped it would be!

Check out the rest of the blog tour to see all sorts of fun pattern hacks and mash-ups! And while you're at it, the Winter Wear Designs Fun Facebook page has pattern hack related giveaways happening all week!

Don't miss out on any of the stops along the tour!!!!

Jess of Jot Designs


Livia of Liviality


Patricia of Sew Far North

Saturday, September 22, 2018

One Last Run of Summer

For the past couple weeks the temps have been up in the 90's. Summer has shown no sign of departing any time soon. Which I really can't complain about, as I had a couple late summer makes that really needed to get a bit of wear before Autumn truly dawned.

Oh goodness, I've spent a lot of time in the fabric store this summer, and it shows! Buttons here, patterns there, zippers here, "just gotta swing by real fast and buy some interfacing" there. And you know what happens if you go to the fabric store? You buy fabric, even if you hadn't planned to. There's a 60% coupon you just can't justify not using. Or you find something fabulous in the remnant bin. These shorts are the result of a 60's off coupon, and the tank top? The remnant bin.

This particular 60% off coupon came in the middle of July, when I was making items to share on the Winter Wear Designs "Pool Side" blog tour.  I saw this pale blue 100% linen at Joann's and instantly thought "Endless Summer Shorts" The linen was more than I prefer to spend on fabric, but the 60% coupon brought it down to a reasonable price, and I figured surely I could squeeze a pair of shorts out of half a yard. So, that's what I used my coupon on, one half yard of linen, destined to become a pair of shorts. Hopefully in time for the blog tour. Or at least in time for vacation.

Well, yeah, the shorts didn't get made in time for either of those things. However, I really did want these linen shorts to become a reality, and I really didn't want the fabric to languish in my stash. Thus, within a week of returning home from vacation, I pushed them to the top of my sewing queue and got them made!

I found it is possible to get a pair of size medium shorts out of half a yard of 54" wide linen, just barely! My waistband is pieced together, and I had to hem my shorts with bias tape, as I didn't have enough fabric to cut the standard hem allowance, but it worked!

For this pair of shorts I decided to make patch pockets (using the pocket facing pattern piece as my pattern), rather than the standard inset pockets. I lined the pockets with a scrap of white and black checked calico from my scrap bag.

To match the black and white pocket lining, black bias tape hem, and black serging inside the shorts (I was too lazy to re-thread my serger with white thread at the time), I bound the interior waistband with black bias tape as well.

None of the black details show on the outside of the shorts, but I love the extra pop they give to the inside!

I considered adding welt pockets to the back of the shorts, but when it came down to in, I really didn't have enough fabric scraps left to make the welts, so that didn't happen. You know you're cutting it close on fabric, if you don't even have large enough scraps over left to make pocket welts! Oh well, I'm a fan of these shorts, even without back pockets!

The front pockets hold everything I need, and the shorts are cute and comfortable, just as shorts are supposed to be. They pair perfectly with my collection of tank tops for hot summer days.

Speaking of tank tops, have I ever mentioned how much I love the 10k Racerback pattern from Pickle Toes Patterns? I tested this pattern back at the beginning of summer, and it's been one of the biggest contributors to my summer wardrobe. I made three during testing, and another a couple weeks later for the 4th of July. These tank tops have been worn constantly all summer long. But. . . They didn't fit me quite right. The armholes all slightly gaped. 

Now I knew why the armholes gaped. I was just afraid to address it. They gaped because I needed a full bust adjustment. The difference between my high bust and full bust measurement is greater than 2" - which is the high and full bust difference most patterns are drafted for. Because of this, when I make the size indicated by my full bust measurement, the top fits fine across by bust, but is too big above my bust. There's too much fabric there, so the armhole gapes. 

With this pattern in particular, I tried to fix that problem by stretching the armhole bands extra tight to pull in the fabric. That kind of worked, but not as well as a full bust adjustment (FBA) would have. I should have done a FBA during testing, as the pattern designer recommended, but that kind of pattern adjustment sounded scary to me. So I avoided it, just as I'd been avoiding it on other garments for 2 years.

Then I found this sparkly, glittery, shiny, pretty, black cotton/spandex jersey remnant at Joann's and it just begged to become another 10k tank. After putting it off for nearly two months, last week I decided to oblige it, and do the dreaded FBA while I was at it. Long story short, I did the adjustment (following the Pickle Toes Patterns Tutorial for this pattern), and while it took a bit of time, it really wasn't that hard. And look! Perfectly fitted, non-gaping, armholes!

Now, if I just take the time to do this same adjustment to other patterns, I'll be set with a well fitting, non gaping, closet! Which, would be fabulous. . .

However, I think the next item I do a full bust adjustment on will have to be for cooler weather. Yesterday, just in time for the first day of Autumn, the temperature finally dropped! I can't complain about that at all, but I am glad summer lasted well into September this year so I had a chance to enjoy wearing both of these garments!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

After 3, You Gotta Change it Up!

When you sew the same pattern several times in a row, there are two things that might happen. Either A) you will get completely sick of the pattern and never want to see it again, or B) you will begin to think of all the ways you can alter the pattern to make amazing new garments that look very little like the original. Personally, I fall into the second category.

Back in April I was testing the Beltaine Fires Tunic, by Mother Grimm. Throughout the course of that test, I made my little sister three new tunics (one never got blogged). These tunics looked so cute on my sister, I began to want one for myself. But. . . I don't wear leggings. And I didn't think I'd really wear a tunic with jeans. So, there seemed to be no point in making the pattern for myself, unless I changed it up a bit! Luckily, I already had a plan brewing to do just that.

I would "hack" the pattern into a dress! I'd make the skirt longer and fuller, lengthen the bodice, and add a bit of interest to the back. It would be a quick and easy project, leaving me with a comfy, easy to wear, summer dress. That was the plan at least, and, for the most part, it worked out!

I found a 2 yard piece of striped poly/rayon/cotton/spandex jersey in my stash, and began playing with the pattern. First, I tackled the skirt.

Please excuse my poor photo editing.
 I didn't want to share the picture with all the designers' pattern markings visible, in order to protect her intellectual property.

I used the "slash and spread" method to add both length and fullness to the skirt pattern. When all was said and done, the skirt had a generous flared A-line shape, and was about knee-length on me.

Next, I changed up the bodice a bit. Mother Grimm patterns are awesome as they come in three heights, Petite, Standard, and Tall. (All 3 are included when you buy the pattern, you don't have to buy each separately! Perfect if you happen to be long or short waisted and want to mix one height bodice with another height skirt.)  Personally, I fall into the "standard" category. However, I wanted my dress bodice be a little longer than the tunic bodice was. So, I opted to use the "Tall" bodice for my dress. The bottom of the "tall" bodice hits me at the bottom of my ribcage, rather than right under the bust as the "standard" would.

Between the bodice and skirt, I decided to add a waistband. Still wanting to add more length to my bodice, I used the Beltaine Fires waistband, and just doubled the width of it. So my dress waistband is now over 2" tall, rather than just over an inch.

For a bit of extra interest, to an otherwise basic dress, I cut the back neckline just as low as the front neckline, then filled it in with some angled straps. This is an incredibly easy "alteration", and I just love the effect it gives!

I added basic inseam pockets to the skirt, because what is a dress without pockets? Sad, that's what! To minimize the pockets dragging down the dress when I filled them with stuff, I stabilized the waist seam with 1/4" elastic.

Then, because the pockets were still dragging down the dress a bit, I stabilized the side seam, from armpit to just below the pockets, with rayon ribbon. This worked pretty well, but you can still tell by the drape of the dress if I have something in my pockets. Pockets in knit dresses are hard!

Once my dress was done, I still had some of the striped fabric left, so I decided to make my sister yet another tunic! No changes to the pattern this time!

I didn't have enough of the stripes left to make a full tunic, so I pulled some solid gray rayon jersey from my stash and made a color blocked tunic.

I made her the "round hem with pockets" option included in the pattern, and added a ruffle to the bottom. That ruffle makes this tunic pretty much dress length.

These dresses have served us both well all summer long. Both have been worn regularly, just as I hoped they would!

And, I don't think I'm done with this pattern yet! Between these dresses, the tunics I made my sister during testing, and the rabbit costumes I made for Mulan, I've made the Beltaine Fires pattern 7 times now, and I can still think of ways to change it up and have fun with it!

So yes, just in case you were wondering, the Beltaine Fires Tunic, was a pattern well worth testing!

*I received this pattern for free in exchange for testing, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.