2018 Making Goals

Two blog posts in such a short time period! Don’t worry, I’ll go back to neglecting this blog again soon. But first I want to talk about my #2018makenine plans and general sewing goals for the year. I did very well with my #2017makenine goals and I think that had a lot to do with focusing my goals on staples that I knew I would grab for, or look forward to grabbing, in my everyday life. My job at Gather Here really encourages me to wear handmade because I’m around other makers. And fortunately my “uniform” of jeans, tees, button-ups, and cardigans are perfect for the store and have become some of my favorite things to make.

I have again focused my sewing goals for the year on items that I know will get a lot of wear, and that I will enjoy making. There are repeats from last year because I am much more interested in making things that I will wear than in trying new patterns just to say that I did.

The nine patterns below may or may not be the exact patterns that I use. I’m using them more as guidelines for the types of garments that I want to make and in some cases they represent the desire to make a number of that garment using a couple different patterns.

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First up are the Chi-town Chinos from Alina Design Co. These are the only item on my 2017 Make Nine that I didn’t get to. That was mostly a matter of running out of time so these are back on the list. I also hope to make the Sasha Trousers from Closet Case Patterns. I have four or five twills that will make great non-jean pants and I hope to work through those fabrics with these two patterns.

The Archer Button Up was on my 2017 list and was made twice, but that’s not nearly enough button up shirts for me! I have a whole pile of plaids that I’m itching to sew into Archers. I also want to experiment with lengthening the Archer into a dress, making a slightly more relaxed dress than the Alder.

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Next on the list is a tailored coat using some lovely wool/cashmere coating that I bought a few weeks ago. I really like the look of the Clare Coat from Closet Case Patterns but I’m leaving the pattern choice open for now. I’m not expecting to finish this one in time to be used for this winter so I’ll have lots of time to finalize pattern choice.

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I made lots of tees and tanks last year but I’m hoping to add to that collection this year. I wear one either on it’s on or as a layer almost every day and I would love to replace the last of the RTW tees that I wear. The Grainline Lark Tee is on the list as is the Penny Raglan, the Closet Case Patterns Ebony Tee, and the Deer and Doe Plantain Tee. I’ve been stocking up on nice jerseys and I’m looking forward to batch-sewing tees and tanks a few times this year.

The Lodo Dress from True Bias has been in the back of my mind to make for quite a while but I’ve never gotten around to it. I’m hoping this will be the year! I’m looking to add a couple knit dresses out of slightly heavier weight knits as winter layering pieces and the Lodo should be perfect for that!

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I made three versions of the Kalle Shirt and Dress last year and I can’t wait to own so many more of them!! The black linen one that I made for my birthday party is one of my favorite garments ever and I’m looking forward to several more linen shirtdresses next summer. I’m also thinking about a flannel one for this winter! And more shirt versions! And I’m planning to try out the sleeve expansion pack soon. (Can you tell this might be my favorite pattern?) I also want to finally make a Grainline Alder Shirtdress this year and possibly an Alder shortened to be shirt length.

I’m really hoping that I can add another piece of outerwear to my closet soon. I find it so frustrating to get dressed in all of these lovely handmades just to toss a RTW jacket on top. Though I added two jackets to my closet in 2017 neither is particularly warm so once the temps fell below 40 degrees they got packed up for the year. I’ve made the Grainline Tamarack Jacket before but I’m hoping to make a warmer version in time to get some use this winter. I have some waxed canvas, Thinsulate for interlining, and a thick flannel. This may end up being a somewhat tricky project because of the layers but I think it will extend my handmade outerwear season! I’m hoping to lengthen it a few inches and I will add a collar like I did the first time I made this jacket.

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I made three Blackwood Cardigans from Helen’s Closet last year but I hope to add a few more this year. They work very well with button-ups and jeans for work or with leggings and tees for lounging. The Grainline Driftless Cardigan will also get made again in 2018. Cardigans are nearly an everyday item for me during the winter and I’m looking forward to having a few more to choose from this year!

And last but most certainly not least is more jeans!! I hope the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans and Morgan Jeans will both reappear a number of times this year. I have quite a bit of denim in my stash and I hope to batch sew jeans a couple times so that I can stop switching between just two pairs all winter! I’ve been pretty happy with the high-waist Gingers so I will make those but also plan to make some of the lower-rise Gingers in addition to Morgan Jeans.

It’s going to be a busy sewing year but I hope it will continue to feel fulfilling to sew my own clothing. I’m hoping to do some purging of the remaining RTW clothing that is lurking, mostly unworn, in my closet and bureau. It has felt so great to be able to wear handmade almost exclusively and I look forward to continuing with that trend in 2018!

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2017 Sewing Wrap-Up

One of my goals for 2018 is to blog more, which shouldn’t be too hard since I only blogged once last year…oops. I don’t think I’m going to be a weekly blogger, or that I will even write a post for every project that I finish but I’m aiming for a post every month.

I’m going to start with a wrap-up of the projects I worked on last year.

By a quick count I made 55 garments last year. I think I’m probably missing a few but even with 55 that means I’m averaging about a garment a week!! I love the graphs that lots of makers have been posting so here’s the breakdown:Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.51.48 PM

Lots of pants and shorts, lots of woven tops, and at least 17 knit tees and tanks! I’m very excited about the amount of clothing that I made last year and the fact that it’s allowed me to be wearing almost exclusively handmade most days. That’s a goal that I’m continuing to work toward this year.

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My #2017makenine goals included a Grainline Archer, Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans, Style Arc Blaire Shirt, Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater, CCP Kelly Anorak, Grainline Lark Tee, Alina Design Co. Chi-town Chinos, Grainline Hemlock, and CCP Sophie Swimsuit. I made 8 of those 9 patterns, some more than once! The Chi-town Chinos are the only pattern on that list that I did not make and that was simply because they didn’t make it to the top of the list until November when I was feeling the crunch with work and school. They will hopefully be made, at least once, in 2018.

The Ginger Jeans, my Kelly Anorak, and the purple plaid Archer are among my very favorite makes of 2017. Also on the list of favorite makes are my linen Kalle Shirtdress from CCP, my Allie Olson Highlands Wrap-dress, and my Alina Design Co. Hampton Jean Jacket.

2017 felt like an evolution of my sewing focus from frosting to cake. I made a number of fun, event-focused items but I focused primarily on sewing well-fitting basics that get worn all the time. I hope to continue that focus in 2018, building a larger and more diverse collection of basics so that wearing handmade daily stays possible and fun!

Hampton Jean Jacket

Oh hey blog, it’s been a long while! Glad you’re still here!

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I’m so thrilled that Alina from Alina Design Co. asked me to be a part of this blog tour because it really gave me the push to sew up this jacket. I’d been meaning to work on this for a while but having a deadline got me working on it! I definitely should have said no when she asked given all the sewing, school, and work commitments going on this month but I managed to get through this jacket and it’s already become a go-to wardrobe piece.

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I purchased the Hampton Jean Jacket pattern as soon as it came out and then jumped on the fabric and hardware kits that Threadbare Fabric was offering to go with the pattern. The denim in the kits was a non-stretch mid-weight in a fairly dark indigo. I knew that I wanted a pretty classic jean jacket–I didn’t currently have one in my closet and felt like starting with a classic one would be most useful. But I also knew that I wanted to get a bit of a jump start on aging and wearing in my jacket.

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I followed Alina’s directions for bleaching denim and made a day of it bleaching both the denim for this jacket and some natural denim that I wanted white for some Morgan Jeans. Bleaching went well and I was able to achieve the color I was going for based on my test swatches.

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I did decide against further distressing partly because I didn’t want to rush the process of distressing and ruin my jacket and also because I’ve never distressed denim and it makes me anxious to think of taking sandpaper to a handmade garment! (That said, I think some of the distressed Hamptons that I’ve seen are absolutely perfect and if I make another one I might give it a try.)

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I’m hoping to throw my Hampton in the wash regularly until it starts to wear in a bit. As I’ve washed and worn my handmade jeans I do really love the way that they break in  and I hope this jacket can achieve a similar look.

I made no fit adjustments to my Hampton, choosing to make a straight size 12. I was daring (read: irresponsible) and did not make a muslin for this jacket. This was mostly a matter of feeling crunched for time, but I’ve found that I’m generally safe going with my measurements in indie patterns, especially when they are a looser fit. The size I choose feels roomy enough for layering underneath but not too big that I can’t wear it with just a t-shirt underneath. (Obviously I would recommend to anyone not confident about their sizing to make a muslin because it’s a real bummer when finished garments don’t fit!)

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I sewed up my jacket following Alina’s fantastic instructions, deviating only slightly to sew as much with regular thread before switching to topstitching thread. I’ve discovered while sewing numerous pairs of jeans that changing up the construction order to do as many steps as possible with each thread before switching really helps the process go faster.

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The only design change I made was to line the back yoke. I didn’t really want the stitching to show on the back from adding my label so a lined yoke was an easy way to hide that. I sandwiched the back bottom panels between the inner and outer yokes and pressed both up and topstitched through all three.

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I did not use flat-felled seams for my jacket, again partly because of the time crunch but also because I like the look of serged and topstitched seams on the inside.

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Overall, this jacket came together so much faster than I was expecting. I had no problem with things coming together; the pattern is drafted perfectly. It probably took me about 20 hours over the course of five days which was a lot less time than I had anticipated. It’s a very approachable pattern, even though there’s a lot of pieces and a lot of seaming it goes together quite quickly!

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My jacket is pictured here with a few different outfits–one thing that I’ve loved about this jacket so far is that it seems to go with everything! Also, I had a lot of fun deciding which enamel pins to add to my jacket. These two, from Colette Patterns and Quilt Kween were top choices for now but I think I’ll probably switch them out once in a while.

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If you are looking for a great layering piece to add to your wardrobe I highly recommend the Hampton Jean Jacket! Alina is offering a discount to readers this week so go pick up the pattern and use “HAMPTONSFORALL” to get 15% off!

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There are six other fabulous ladies sewing up and sharing their Hampton Jean Jackets this week! Go check out their fantastic versions!

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Hampton Jean Jacket Fall 2017 Blog Tour
October 9: Helen’s Closet
October 13: Well Fibre
(Other garments pictured in this post include the Morgan Jeans, a Lark Tee, the Emerson Pants, and the Ogden Cami.)

 

Marianne Take Two

On the search for another fast project a couple weeks ago, I happened across a cotton spandex jersey that I got from Girl Charlee without having any real plans for it. It was hot here the week I made this and skirts and dresses were the best way to stay cool.

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I thought about trying out a new pattern but I was getting started later in the day and really wanted to finish whatever I decided to make in time to wear it for Me Made May the next day. My previous Marianne Dress (blogged here) only took a few hours so I knew this pattern was what I was looking for. I think from cutting out to clipping threads this whole thing took me three to four hours. Not bad!

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I made Version A of the Marianne Dress by Christine Haynes. My only modifications were to skip the collar and to add slim bands to the cap sleeves instead of folding over the sleeves and hemming them. I figured out how long to make the sleeve bands by calculating what percentage of the neckline length the neck band piece was and then making the sleeve band length the same percentage of the armhole edge.

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I added the sleeve bands in exactly the same way as the neckband is added in the pattern. Easy peasy!

I decided to stitch down the hem of the dress without my double needle because I still don’t feel like I get the results I’d like from it. I know this means I just need to play with it a bit more but who wants to do that when there are so many other things to be sewing and I could just wish for a coverstitch machine instead.

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I was intending to just stitch the hem down once but when I was almost finished I noticed that I’d missed an inch or so of the hem in one spot. Rather than take out what I’d done (we were going for fast, lazy sewing project here!) I decided to just sew another line underneath. So it looks like I used a coverstitch machine or a twin needle but this was just two lines of stitching with my walking foot.

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Not much else to say. This is still a great pattern. I basically feel like I’m wearing pajamas all day when I wear it, and it only takes a few hours to sew. Doesn’t get much better than that!

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The other great thing about making this dress is that I now know how fantastic this basic cotton spandex jersey is. At $6.50 a yard this medium weight, 95% cotton 5% spandex blend seems very high quality for the money. It sews up very nicely and is about as easy to work with as knits can get. I’ll certainly be adding more to my sewing stash soon!

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Details:

Pattern: Marianne Dress by Christine Haynes

Fabric: Cotton/Spandex Jersey from Girl Charlee

-Hannah

Foxglove Tank and Dress

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I’ve had my eye on the Foxglove Tank by Selvage Designs for a pretty long time. I remember first seeing on Indie Sew as that site was coming on the scene. I didn’t buy it for a while because it was more expensive than other woven tank patterns and I was still leaning about all that goes into putting a sewing pattern together. Not that I’m an expert by any means but after a year of really regularly following a bunch of indie pattern designers I feel like I have enough of a sense of the workload that I definitely don’t feel like I’m overpaying for a $12 pattern as long as it’s a good one.

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And this one is! The pattern goes together easily, there are only two pattern pieces, the instructions are thorough, and the construction is straight forward.

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Continuing in my tradition of making two versions of easy patterns (which totally defeats what I’m usually going for, a quick sew) I dove in with a bunch of double gauze and made a tank and a tank dress.

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I was inspired to make this pattern when I finally gave in and bought some Cotton & Steel Bespoke double gauze last weekend. After I got home I decided that I wanted to try turning the pattern into a tank dress but of course I hadn’t bought enough fabric for that. So I dug up this Kokka broken plaid double gauze that I bought last year and never cut into.

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I made two modifications in order to turn this pattern into a dress. The first was to lengthen both the front and back pieces by 6″ at the lengthen/shorten lines. The second was to lower the front hemline. The original hemline is a high/low hemline. I wanted to maintain the low in the back and mirror the shape, though not quite as low, in the front. Basically I wanted to create a shirttail hem with the pattern pieces I had.

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After making the pattern modifications I cut out my fabric and got sewing. Nothing special about the construction for either of these. I used french seams on the shoulders and side seams which is one of several suggested finishing methods in the pattern. Bias binding around the necklines and armholes and narrow hems finished off these quick makes.

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The only thing I’d like to fix when I make this pattern again is to open up the neckline and the armholes a bit. I’m fine with the style of the higher neckline but it’s actually a bit challenging to get over my head! The armholes are also a bit higher than I’d like so the top feels a little tighter than it actually is. Opening both of those up will be easy and give me the perfect fit I’m looking for.

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I’m so happy to add two new double gauze items to my wardrobe. My double gauze Eucalypt tank got lots of wear during Me Made May and I’m glad I was able to make more pieces out of this fabulous fabric. These are both incredibly comfortable. The Foxglove pattern is also usable with knit fabric and I’d like to give a knit version a try soon!!

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Details:

Pattern: Foxglove Tank by Selvage Designs

Fabric: Kokka Broken Plaid double gauze from Gooba Designs on Etsy and Cotton & Steel Bespoke double gauze from JP Knit & Stitch

-Hannah

 

Mini Collection One–The Reunions

I mentioned in my Me Made May round-up that I was going to try a new method for planning out sewing projects. Instead of making a crazy long, exhaustive list of everything I want to make for a given season I’m going to try focusing my plans on mini collections for specific trips or events. So here’s my first one…

This mini collection is for two reunions that I’m headed to this month, my husband’s family reunion next weekend and my ten-year high school reunion the weekend after. Because my timeline is fairly short I’ve limited this collection to four garments, one of which I actually finished last night and another of which is in progress. Here’s what I’m planning:

My first project, now completed, is a tank dress that is a modified version of the Foxglove Tank pattern. I’ll post more details about how I modified the pattern very soon. **Update: Info on modifications for the turning the Foxglove into a dress are posted here. **

My in progress item is a maxi-length linen Southport Dress. I bought this pattern the day it came out and quickly matched it up with this gorgeous turquoise linen. I got started on this last month but it got pushed to the back burner for a while in favor of some faster projects. This really shouldn’t be a long project either. I think this is going to be an incredibly comfortable dress so I’m hoping to get it finished soon!

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My next two projects have not been started yet but will hopefully be fairly simple makes too. First off is the Cabernet Cardigan which I’m planning to make in this black sweater knit. I think this fabric is a little on the light side for the pattern but is a very similar weight to a store-bought cardigan in much the same style as the Cabernet. I’ve been wanting to add more cardigans like this to my wardrobe and I’m anxious to see if this pattern fits the bill.

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Last but certainly not least, I’m going to give the Greenwood Tank a try. This pattern looks like it’ll produce exactly the sort of tank I tend to wear most so I’m hopeful this will become a quick staple for my wardrobe. I’m planning to make it in this dark green jersey. This should be another easy make and I’m looking forward to using the pattern for some interesting variations later in the summer.

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What do you have for summer sewing plans? Any trips or events you’re planning to sew for?

-Hannah

Me Made May Round-Up Part Two

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I’m feeling very proud of how well I did with Me Made May. I had two goals when I signed up, the more measurable goal was to wear a minimum of three me-mades each week. I achieved this goal easily, and then some!

I wore handmade clothing 27 out of 31 days (I didn’t get photographs on two of those). At least two of those four days that I didn’t wear something handmade I also just didn’t get dressed. I’m a lazy Sunday sort of person! I guess this just means I need some me made pajamas!! There were six garments that were repeated at least once but even with those repeats I managed to wear 20 unique handmade garments in May!

Here are links for all of the garments that I’ve written posts about:

My other, less quantifiable, goal for Me Made May participation was to use the experience of trying to wear me-made for the month to clarify my sewing aspirations. I don’t have any enormous revelations here but I’ve certainly learned lots from the experience.

The first lesson is one I was expecting, and probably one that many of us have learned over and over again. DRESSES ARE FUN TO MAKE, BUT IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO WEAR ONE TO WORK EVERY DAY IT’S TIME TO STOP MAKING THEM!!

What is it about dresses? Sure they’re less work than making pants and a blazer but they’re not an insubstantial amount of work. Why are they so captivating? I’m a nanny so technically I can wear whatever I want to work but of course the goal is that I’m comfortable, not worried that anything that happens to my clothing is going to permanently harm it, and most of all that I can run after a three and a half year old in it. This doesn’t rule out dresses for me entirely but generally I need to stick with things that are really washable, roomy, and long enough that I can bend over easily. I have some dresses that fit the bill but for the most part separates just work better. I don’t need to swear off making dresses but should focus more attention on separates that I can wear day to day. Those are the things that I wore the most during May.

The second lesson, and one that I’m still learning, is that it’s ok if I don’t want to sew certain things, it’s ok if I like my Gap tanks and tees. I’m still in the process of figuring out which basics and wardrobe staples I want to spend time sewing and which I don’t. I’m really excited about the pair of jeans I made and I’m looking forward to making more of them. But I don’t want to make long sleeve t-shirts or knit tanks in basic colors. Making super basic items in the same fabrics I can purchase RTW items, not my cup of tea! I know it is for some people and I’m not swearing off making these things. If it’s what I or someone else really wants to make there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But sewing is an escape for me and deciding that I “should” be making basic tees when I could buy them (likely for less than the cost of the fabric I’d need to make them) takes away from sewing as a soothing activity for me.

My third lesson is really less of a lesson and more of a puzzle that I’m still trying to figure out. That puzzle is all about how I make my sewing plans, stick to them, and get through some of my massive stash of fabric. About six weeks ago I posted here about my summer sewing plans. It included eight garments in May, five garments and a bag in June and six garments in July. I actually sewed quite a bit in May. I made, from start to finish, six garments as well as working on but not yet completing three others. That’s a really productive month for me but unfortunately only one of my finished garments and one of in progress garments were on my list. I’m really happy with the garments I have made but there are also several things on my list for May that I was excited about and would still really like to make.

I think this means that I need to come up with a better system for planning. While I like the idea of having a long list of projects I’d like to get to at some point having three months of sewing all planned out has felt limiting. One thing that I can find a bit overwhelming about the online sewing community is that there are so many patterns coming out all the time and sometimes I just want to jump on the bandwagon and kiss my plans goodbye.

One idea that’s resurfaced several times as this topic has been percolating in my brain is to try to focus myself on really mini collections, the sort that would be perfect for a weekend getaway. I have several shorter trips planned in the next several months and focusing myself on three or four items to make for each of those instead of trying to have one massive plan for a whole season’s wardrobe seems easier. I’ll be back later this week to tell you about my first mini collection.

So there are my Me Made May thoughts. How did Me Made May go if you were participating? Do you plan out large numbers of projects or just sew whatever is on your mind?

-Hannah