Happy Birthday To Me!

I’m stopping by briefly to say hi and show off a few of the awesome birthday presents I’ve gotten.

First I’ll show you the fabric I got. Mom and I went out on Friday evening for dinner, but first we went to Gather Here in Cambridge, MA. We grabbed some nice lightweight cotton that we’ll use to make a wearable muslin for her before cutting into some silk she’s had for years but never done anything with. This first pick I bought for myself, it’s the Red Rover colorway of Rae Hoekstra’s new line It’s a Small World. I’ve been wanting some of Rae’s new line of organic corduroy but wasn’t sure exactly what to do with it. I know it’ll be a little crazy, but I think I’m going to use it to make some shorts!

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Of course when Mom mentioned that she wanted to buy me some fabric, I headed right for the Liberty of London cotton lawn. I’ve been checking out this print recently whenever I was in the store and I’m so happy it’s mine now. I forgot to write down the name, and I can’t seem to find it online, but I’m pretty sure it’s a newer one. Or at least a less common one. I love the floral craziness of Liberty, and certainly this one is bold, but I like that it’s a bit less busy than many of their prints.

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I got a yard and a half and I’m thinking I’ll make a basic flowy top that’ll really show off the print. Not a lot of lines or seams, just clean and simple and beautiful Liberty.

I received a couple sillier birthday presents too.

From Mom and Dad:

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The pigs start out black and then turn white when heated so you can see the little flying piggies!

And from Martin:

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I have a pretty dirty mouth, this shirt is highly appropriate.

Now I’m headed back to paper writing. Hopefully I’ll get some sewing time in soon!!

-Hannah

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Ginger Jeans!!

(Caution: What follows can only be described as full on gloating, unabashed pride, and a complete lack of modesty when it comes to any compliments. I apologize in advance but I am just so stinking proud. Have you seen these things? They’re badass.)

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Well hot diggity dog! Or as the beloved namer of the blog would say, “Hot dog, hot dog, hot dog, diggiyah dog!”

I made jeans!

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Not just that…I made wearable jeans!!

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I’d like to take some of the credit and say that perhaps I’m a better seamstress than I thought but I think mostly Heather just wrote a really amazing pattern because these turned out so well. It took me a long time to actually get started on my Ginger Jeans because I was so worried about how they were going to turn out. It’s been five weeks since I made my (successful) muslin and three weeks since I got everything cut out and prepped.

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Do you ever have that happen to you with a sewing project? You’ve read the pattern, cut out the fabric, you’re really excited about the idea of the finished product. But you’re just not sure your technical ability is up to the task? My biggest concern was how my topstitching and finishing skills would hold up on the denim. The places on my previous makes where I’ve been the least impressed with my skills have been topstitching and finishing in particularly bulky areas. I was also worried about fit, of course. Other than a couple pairs of Hudson Pants made around Christmas time last year, I’ve never made pants so I was anxious about how well they’d fit, even though I made a muslin.

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Heather nailed this pattern though, and that’s evident not just from how well I think my jeans  came out, but also from the enormous number of glowing reviews of this pattern and the number of fantastic Ginger-clad butt selfies running around on Instagram.

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All in all, I was surprised by how easily these came together. I’d made a full muslin version several weeks ago, I’m pretty  sure the only things I skipped were some topstitching and the hem, so it was basically my second time putting them together. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it went. Probably 15-20 hours over the course of 3 days. Maybe that’s a long time, but I’m trying to get myself to slow down and do everything well. And I think it shows. (See above caution about lack of modesty.)

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I think I have to give all of the credit for my good topstitching to my Jean-a-ma-jig which I used whenever I was stitching over other seams. You just place it under the back of your presser foot as you’re coming up to a particularly bulky area and it helps you maintain an even stitch length as you make your way across the bulk. I also used a little makeshift one that was just a folded over square of denim. I used that for the start of topstitched seams where I was just going to be sewing on a couple layers of denim. It helped me get a nice even start.

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I don’t think there’s much to say about fit that I haven’t already mentioned here. When I decided to make these I knew that I wanted the lower waist of one version with the skinny legs of the other. I couldn’t begin to explain why I thought that it made sense to try to skinny out the legs of the lower waist version instead of just lowering the waist of the skinny version. But that’s what I’d decided to do. In my muslin I took out 3/4 of an inch on the side seam and inseam of each front and back leg. This result in having to cut my muslin at the knees because they were SO tight in the calves. When I cut out my denim, I added back 1/2 an inch to the side seams and inseam. Then I basted those seams to check fit.

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I could certainly have left them the way they were, but I really did want skinnier legs so I took out 1/8 of an inch on the side and inseams when I sewed those seams permanently. I could probably have gotten away with more, but I think they look good. Next time around, and believe me there will be a next time, I will try lowering the waist on the skinny version instead of messing with the leg width.

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There are a couple other places I will want to focus on next time. I think I could still take out a tiny bit more length. Probably just another 1/2 inch at the knees. They’re also feeling a bit big from the crotch up. I think they’ve stretched at bit, which makes sense, it’s stretch denim, and I might even be able to get away with a smaller size. If I stick with the same size next time I’ll need to take a chunk out at the center back seam and take out some extra fabric around the crotch too.

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Other than the tweaks I’ve mentioned I sewed these up just as the pattern calls for. I was expecting to find the switching back and forth between regular thread and topstitching thread to really drive me nuts but it wasn’t that bad. I did my best to break some of the construction sequence rules so that I was doing everything I could with whatever thread I had in the machine before switching. Other than that they were sewn up as prescribed.

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My one and only frustration with these was the rivets and button. I’d picked up the jeans notions kit from Thread Theory because Heather recommended it in her supply round up. I was happy with the zipper, and the rivets were okay, but the button in that kit and I are not friends. I think the problem is actually with the pin that you hammer into the button. I’ve done some research on this in the last few days and many of the other buttons I’ve found come with pins that have several ridges on them that catch inside the button to secure it. The pins that come with the kit only have one, very slight ridge on them. The result was trying both of the buttons from both of the kits I’d bought and neither of them working. The first one seemed to catch but then pulled off and bent when we tried to get it back on. The second one just never caught. I went ahead and bought new buttons from Pacific Trimming. They got here very quickly, and went on easily.

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Other than the button nonsense, these were such a fun and satisfying make. If you’d told me even six months ago that I would make jeans and there would be no crying involved I would’ve told you to cut the crap. I know that my sewing has improved a lot in the last year but there’s something about finishing these jeans that makes me feel able to try anything!

I can’t wait to wear these all over the place and start planning some new pairs too. I’m thinking they probably need to happen in corduroy this fall. What do you think?

Details:

Pattern: Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

Fabric: Theory Denim from Mood Fabrics

-Hannah

Summer Sewing Plans

As I’m nearing the end of my spring sewing list it’s time to plan out the next goals. It’s totally possible that I am completely overestimating the time I’ll have for sewing in the next couple months. I have a crazy ambitious list of things on my summer sewing list. There are several items that I want to make duplicates of in addition to several patterns that I’ve used previously. Hopefully that will help these projects happen more easily.

In an attempt to tame some of the crazy I’ve grouped these in three chunks.

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May

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June

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July

So those are my plans, crazily ambitious ones, I know. Anything I’m missing?

-Hannah

 

Internet Highlights

I’ve been busy enough actually sewing the last few weeks that I haven’t done an internet highlights post in a while. But good stuff has been happening, here’s what’s caught my eye.

  • True Bias released her newest pattern today. It’s called the Southport Dress and it launched at just the right time for me. This tank style dress has two length options and, depending on the fabric, can be worn as a beach cover-up, as an around town dress, or anywhere in between. I’m in the process of planning out my summer sewing goals and I’ve been a little stuck on how to use some gorgeous linen I got last month. I should have enough fabric for a maxi-length version. I’m loving the idea of an airy maxi with a waist is cinched but not elasticated. Sometimes I find elastic waistbands to be a bit uncomfortable when it’s super hot, which presumably is what we’re in for here in Boston this summer.
  • I really like Lauren’s latest post over on Lladybird about why she sews. It’s great to hear about why other people sew, how they got into it, and what role it plays in their life. When I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas two and half years ago I had absolutely no idea the effect it would have on my life. I figured I’d hem some pants, do a couple craftier things, make a couple cute things when kids came into the picture. I’ve still never hemmed pants. But now I’m consumed, in the best way possible, by planning a handmade wardrobe, sewing for friends and family members, and just generally enjoying being able to express myself creatively. I find posts like this particularly inspiring when they come from someone who is as good a seamstress as Lauren. It’s helpful to remember that we all started somewhere.
  • Jenny over on Cashmerette posted today about figuring out your sewing benchmark. That is, what level of sewing are you attempting? Are you trying to make clothing that is more original versions of RTW brands? Are you going for finishing that is at the level of RTW or above that level? Are you trying to create really high end clothing with hand-finished, couture-level details? I think I’m still trying to figure out the answer to those questions, and I assume that they will continue to evolve as my abilities increase. As I study RTW garments more it’s become clear to me that it doesn’t take a particularly high level of sewing proficiency to accomplish garments that are made and finished to a RTW standard. I think this says more about how crappily some clothing is put together than it does about how how advanced a seamstress I am. At this point my goal is to create clothing whose finish says high end RTW, but whose style says handmade. I don’t want people to look at how my clothing is put together and know right away that it is homemade. But I do want my clothing to fit in ways I can’t get at a chain store.

Such good questions and good food for thought in some women’s posts this week. Damn it feels good to be a maker!

-Hannah

Current WIPs

I’ve shown off several of my most recently completed projects. I thought I’d show you my last two spring sewing works in progress before I start on a post about my summer sewing plans.

My first update is that my Ginger jeans are cut out and waiting for me to get started on them.

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I was really good and spent a lot of time carefully tracing each piece, adding tailor’s tacks and clipping notches. I’m really trying to get better about slowing down my preparation for sewing. I know everyone says that preparation time is make it or break it time in terms of how successfully a garment will come together. I have not been so good in the past about slowing down and really getting things right the first time. I’m getting better though. And I’m noticing an improvement in my garments as a result.

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As I said in a previous post, the size eight muslin I made fit very well in the waist and hips but I’d taken out too much width in the legs. I’m making a combined version with a low waist and skinny legs and of course did it the hard way. So I added back half an inch on each side of both the back and front pieces. This means I’ve taken off a quarter inch. I’m going to baste the side and inseams and then we’ll see how they fit. I’m anticipating wanting to take them in a bit.

The other work in progress is a modified Archer. I’m making it a “popover” or half buttondown with a mandarin collar. I was planning to use some tutorials and try to draft my own placket. But then I realized I could just use the placket piece from the Carme blouse pattern I just purchased. I haven’t made that pattern yet, and maybe it’s dumb to sub in a pattern piece I haven’t used. I have been thinking about this project as a wearable muslin though so hopefully it’ll work well enough to satisfy that goal.

I was getting along really well with the shirt while we were in Vermont last weekend. I got the back yokes attached.

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And got the front pocket on.

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And then I promptly sewed the placket on incorrectly and didn’t realized that until I had slashed it. So my next step is to get the placket recut and see if I can unpick the one that’s on there but leave the front in good enough condition to sew on a new one. If not, that’s ok. I’ve got enough fabric to cut a new front. And it really didn’t take that long. I just feel silly.

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After sewing the placket incorrectly I needed to work on a different part of the shirt until I was home and had access to my remaining fabric. So I got the sleeve plackets sewn on and basted the pleats.

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I’d never made plackets this way before. The first one didn’t turn out great but the second one was definitely better. The only other time I’ve done sleeve plackets were on the Negroni shirts I made for Christmas presents and those are done differently, the way the Carme placket is done.

As I’m typing this I’m realizing that it may look weird to have two different types of plackets on the same garment. Perhaps I should do a larger version of the sleeve plackets on the neckline. That’ll also be much easier to sew with the slash I’ve already made. Alright, new game plan, awesome!!

There’s one other project that had been on my spring sewing list and that’s my Minoru jacket. I’ve been planning a lot of modifications to that pattern and at first had been holding off on starting it because I wanted to do some more research on how to manipulate the neckline gathers. And now that spring has finally arrived, hopefully I didn’t just jinx it, I’m having a hell of a time imagining myself working on a coat. I’m still excited about the pattern, the fabric, and the plans I’ve made so I’m not dropping this project at all. I just have too many fun plans for summer sewing to spend my time on a jacket right now. I think my new plan is to work on it bit by bit with the end goal being to have it ready to go for the fall.

Be back soon with some more finished garments!

-Hannah

Gifts for Some Special Kiddos

In between all of the garments I’ve been making for myself in the last few months I’ve spent some time working on some projects for some special young ladies in my life. Three years ago I got the amazing opportunity to start nannying for the adorable daughter of some friends of mine. M is partly responsible for the name of this blog. For some reason she initially learned my husband Martin’s name as “Match,” and it has stuck. When I was thinking about possible names for this blog I knew I couldn’t pick “Hannah Makes,” that’s already taken, and I figured “Match Makes” would be a fun way to play off of that adorable nickname.

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M was three months old when I started and just became a big sister a couple weeks ago. The first present I got to deliver to this new family of four was this whole cloth quilt. I ordered these fabrics from Etsy this fall. They’re both from the Flight Patterns collection by Tamara Kate for Michael Miller.

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This was an easy peasy project. I got a yard and a half of each fabric and trimmed those to be about 42″ long so it would be fairly square. I sandwiched them with some batting and did some quick diagonal straight line quilting. I added some straight grain binding, sewn on by machine with a wide zig zag stitch and then ran off to the hospital to deliver this to new baby A.

I made two other quick things for the new baby. I got this fabric, which is a Kaufman Laguna knit, last fall and unfortunately when I washed it it got a bit tangled with a red jersey knit that bled all over it. I washed it again and got almost all of the red out but it still has a bit of a red/pink tinge. I also decided that as much as I loved the fabric, I maybe am not the kind of person who can rock a mustache print tank top.

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It was however perfect for some baby clothes. These leggings are the 6-9 month version of the Baby Go To Leggings from Go To Sew. And the hat is the Top Knot Baby Hat from Pretty Prudent. Both of these patterns are free and they were very quick makes. I made both of these, and an additional pair of leggings and a hat, in maybe 90 minutes or so. I’m thinking I’ll try to start turning my knit scraps into baby leggings and hats because they’re such speedy projects and someday I’m going to need them for myself.

This little girl came a bit early so it’s going to be a while until she fits in either of these things but when she does she’ll most definitely be a styling lady.

My last project was an amazingly fun make. I remember so distinctly as an older sister how important it was to me when I got presents from people who were coming to meet my sister for the first time. So as soon as I knew that M was going to be a big sister I started to think about what I could make for her.

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I’d first seen this bear carrier over on Olivia Jane Handcrafted, and I knew immediately that I wanted to make it. It comes from Liesl Gibson’s book Little Things to Sew. This book is adorable and I am looking forward to making a number of other projects from it.

The bear carrier doesn’t look like much without an animal in it and without it being on a kid. But I think it’ll be super cute and I look forward to seeing M wearing her dolls and animals while her parents and I are wearing her sister.

These were all very fun, very easy projects for some little girls that are so special to me. I’m glad I got to make them and show them off to you!

-Hannah

Finished Sutton Blouse

Just dropping by briefly to show you a project I finished a couple weeks ago. This is the Sutton blouse by True Bias. I’ve mentioned before that I have really mixed feelings about this make. This has nothing to do with the pattern, this shirt is actually really loose and comfortable. The problem has everything to do with the fabric that I chose.

The seersucker is unfortunately too stiff and just doesn't drape well.

The seersucker is unfortunately too stiff and just doesn’t drape well.

I’m honestly feeling a little dumb about this one because I feel like I should’ve known better. I thought the mix of voile and seersucker would make for such a nice little summer top but unfortunately it just does not work with the boxiness of the pattern. I also think that the neckline, which probably would work well with a much drapier pattern, just adds to the boxy, bubbly chest look that this has on me.

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It looks decent hanging up.

The color-blocking is also really bothering me. I’ve never had a lot of color-blocked clothing but when I started this project I was worried that the seersucker would be too stiff on the shoulders and thought the lightweight voile would work well. Perhaps if I’d done two layers of the voile it would feel a bit more equal to the seersucker and would flow into it more easily.

All in all, this top is just feeling a bit like medical scrubs. Not the look I was going for.

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I’m not sure I’ve ever put in a better bias facing.

I’m still on the fence about what to do with it. The finishing on it came out so well so I’m feeling frustrated and reluctant to just give up on it.

At first I thought that fixing the boxiness of the sleeves would be sufficient. I did notice someone on Instagram made the pattern with a heavier fabric and modified the sleeves a bit to make the boxiness less dramatic. So I thought I’d just give it a couple wears and try pulling some boxiness out of the sleeves if necessary. But having worn it once, I’m feeling like the color-blocking is also bugging me a lot. And that’s a lot less simple to fix. Also this top just didn’t take that long to make so it feels a little crazy to spend a lot of time trying to fix it.

So for right now I’m just going to let it hang in the closet. Maybe I’ll figure out a way to fix it, or perhaps someone will see it in there and look a lot better in it than I do. I’m sure I’ll try making the Sutton blouse again at some point but right now I’ve got other projects to focus on. It’s always a bummer when something I’ve spent time on, even if it’s not a lot of time, doesn’t come out the way I want it to. But it’s certainly helping me to continue learning about the fabric choices I make.

On to more successful makes!

-Hannah